Four Bids Submitted for Nassau

Barclays, MSGE, SMG and Global Spectrum all make bids for Long Island arena

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: June 5, 2013

Rendering for Barclays Center-backed redesign of Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

Update June 6, 2:45 p.m. PST: A previous version of this story indicated that Madison Square Garden Entertainment (MSGE) had taken the lead on a bid to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. We should have said Madison Square Garden Co. We also reported that MSGE owns Newsday. That's not completely accurate. Newsday is owned by Cablevision, which had owned MSG until 2010, when it was spun off into separate company. James Dolan is the CEO and President of Cablevision and the executive chairman of MSG.

Rival plans to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale has created a New York showdown between the city’s two biggest arenas, part of a four-way competition to win the rights to rebuild or revamp the facility.

On one side is the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn and its developer Bruce Ratner, who has a $229-million proposal to revamp the 41-year-old, 17,686-seat arena currently managed by SMG. Ratner proposes dropping the building down to 13,000 seats and eventually redeveloping the land around the site — considered to be highly valuable due to its location in North America's largest media market.

"This will be something special. It taps into a huge market of people who are really hungry for entertainment options," said Ratner. "The only reason acts like Jay-Z currently don't play Long Island is because of the condition of the building."

On the other side is Manhattan-based Madison Square Garden, whose chairman James Dolan has teamed up with developer Scott Rechler of firm RXR Realty with their own $250-million mixed-use proposal, which includes building an adjacent 150,000-square-foot, mixed-use entertainment hub to be called “Long Island Live.”

Also making a bid is the building’s current operator SMG, which has teamed up with developer Ed Blumenfeld for a privately financed plan for a new 10,000-seat arena and a 100,000-square-foot adjacent exhibition center.

smg.jpgRendering for SMG-backed proposal for Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

“We’re the only developer who is suggesting tearing this arena down and replacing it,” said building GM Jerry Goldman with SMG. “We’ve been managing this arena for a long time and we know that it's more cost effective to rebuild rather than refurbish. Some of the systems in the building, like HVAC and plumbing, are over 40 years old.”

Also submitting a plan is Global Spectrum, which wants to drop the capacity of the building to 8,000 for hockey and 10,000 for concerts. Global has teamed up with Arena of Long Beach (N.Y.) owner Bernard Shereck, who maintains the Long Island rights for an East Coast Hockey League minor-league franchise.

Many wonder if there is a conflict of interest in having either Madison Square Garden or the Barclays Center operate the facility — both buildings have their own cut-down configurations that might compete with a revamped Nassau Coliseum. Either way, SMG VP of Booking Jon Petrunak, who currently routes bands into the facility, said Long Island has always stood out on its own.

“It’s a great market with over 3 million people who really support live entertainment, especially pop and Top 40,” he said, noting that some shows have done double dates in Long Island and Manhattan, but it's generally an individual tour decision.

“The biggest problem you run into is the limited number of available dates,” he said. “If a tour only has 30 dates scheduled for North America, they have to ask themselves how many are they going to commit to the New York market.”

Funding for the four proposals also adds an additional layer of complexity to the bid. The Barclays team is working with Guggenheim Partners, which purchased the Los Angeles Dodgers and Dick Clark Productions in 2012 and was said to be a finalist during the AEG sale before owner Phil Anschutz took the team off the market. Legends Hospitality would handle concessions, while Live Nation and Jay Z’s Roc Nation would lead on content. Their proposed designer SHoP architects, did the Barclays Center.

nassau_coliseum_650.pngRendering of MSG plan for Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, N.Y.

MSG has partnered with developer Cordish Cos., who have built entertainment districts all over North America including Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Kansas City.

MSG brings to the table its regional sports network, which has televised Islander games since 1983. Partner Rechler with RXR Realty is the largest land owner in Uniondale. This is Rechler’s second attempt at Nassau — in August 2011, voters turned down his proposal with New York Islanders owner Charles Wang for the $3.7-billion Lighthouse Project.

Not long after the project fell through, Wang announced plans to permanently move the team to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, following the expiration of its lease with owner Nassau County.

Ratner hoped to sweeten the deal by offering dejected Islander fans six home games a year at the rebuilt Nassau Coliseum. The rival proposal from MSGE opens up the possibility for the company’s own New York Rangers hockey squad as a possibility for several home games at the rebuilt Nassau Coliseum (Update: MSG Rep said Rangers home games were not on the table, "what we have said is that MSG plans to bring one of our associated teams – Liberty, Hartford Wolf Pack or the Knicks D-League affiliate and possibly a Knicks or Rangers practice.")

SMG has teamed up with Blumenfeld Development and Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan for their $200-million plan. A recent playoff run by the team generated a lot of good will for fans with the Rock This Old Barn promotion.

“I thought the Islanders did a great job bringing back the nostalgic,” said Goldman. “There’s obviously some sadness about the move, now that the team is good. I think fans are going to hold onto any chance they get before the team moves to Brooklyn.”

A decision by Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano is expected by the end of summer.

Interviewed for this article: Jerry Goldman, (516) 794-9300; Jon Petrunak, (610) 729-7912; Bruce Ratner, (716) 858-5420

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: June 5, 2013