Sunday, July 31, 2011

New York Islanders: The Real Truth Behind the Arena Project

Im sitting here trying to fond the angle to play with this article and decided to go and talk frankly about what is going on at the moment.

First a little background on what has been done to this point.

Charles Wang bought the Islanders for many reasons. One being most prominent is that he is a Long Islander and wherever he went, people said hey Mr. Wang, help out us Islander fans and buy the team.

Men like Charles Wang, who admittedly did not know much of anything about the sport saw something in the Islanders back then that not a lot of other people saw, value.

Maybe not in the horrid attendance figures and equally as bad performance but he saw value on the team.

Financial value.

Charles Wang had a vision for the Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area and he figured if he owned the team well then it would put him at the forefront of the battle that was to be had over the 77 acre Nassau Coliseum area.

The Nassau Hub project if you will is something that has been talked about for many years dating back to the 1980's.

I will not go through all of the plans that have been put forth because for whatever reason none of them ever made it past the planning stage.

Charles Wang has a much more grandiose vision of what was to be placed on the site.

The Lighthouse Project was a complete area make over with e new renovated arena and tha fully developed 77 acre development plan that was so big and so huge that the idea that someone wanted to build such a project in Uniondale was mind boggling.

Price tags of between three and four billion dollars was what it was going to cost.

Charles Wang brought on a partner for this project in the Rexcorp, only the largest and most successful real estate developer on Long Island.

He was serious and he was going to finance the project himself.

Yes you saw that right.

The project went through most of the legal hurdles and tens of millions of dollars was spent.

The Town of Hempstead effectively killed the monster project saying it was to dense for Nassau County.

This put us back at square one.

Enter Ed Mangano.

In a stunning upset, Ed Mangano unseated incumbent Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

So where did this leave the development of the area?

Mangano decided to get everyone to the table, The main entities in the deal are Nassau County, The Town of Hempstead and Charles Wang.

They all agree on one thing. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum needs to be replaced. It is outdated and way past its prime as a new arena has been talked about on the site as far back as the late 1980's.

They all came up with the plan that will be voted on by Nassau County residents August 1st at a special referendum to see if the people of Nassau County agree with their elected officials on whether the arena should be replaced with County money.

They want to borrow 350 million dollars to pay for the project and another 50 million for a minor league baseball park.

Here is the kicker. opponents of the project say that residents of Nassau County are in effect voting themselves a tax increase if they vote yes on August 1st.

That sounds bad right? No one likes new taxes do they?

Well how much more taxes are we talking about?

That number is in dispute but here is the range of money were talking about.

Anywhere from $18 to a worst case scenario of $58.

Wow. that sounds like a lot of money to pay extra every month.

Wait a second. Its not monthly? Its YEARLY?

So the big problem people have is that people will have to eat a monstrous 31 cents to $1.12 PER WEEK to pay for a new arena, and that is if the profits the new arena would take in does not cover the debt service.

Hey if that's the case, sign me up for 3.

So obviously money is not the issue here, unless there are people who are going to go into bankruptcy from an extra 31 cents to $1.12 per week on their tax bill.

Opponents of the project are plain and simple resorting to the one thing that is ruining not only life on Long Island, its making it awfully hard for this country to get anything done.

Newsday, owned by Cablevison and the same entity that owns the Rangers, which just so happens to own the currently being renovated Madison Square Garden. So ask yourself this question: With the new arena being constructed in Brooklyn, do you think the Dolans want another brand spanking new state of the art facility in their market as competition for the Garden?

While your thinking about that think about this: Remember how crazy the Dolan's went when the Jets wanted to put their stadium in Manhattan?

Yeah, I am really sure Jim Dolan would be crying a river if the new Coliseum does not get built.

Don't forget that Jim Dolan owns Newsday, you know, Long Island's newspaper.

The next major stinkfest at work here mucking up the water is partisan politics. Something that is so prevalent in today's American society that the stench of it reaches all the way to Washington DC.

Do you think the Democrats, who are still shell shocked from losing the Nassau County executive position to the Republicans want Mangano and the GOP to get credit for getting that new arena?

Partisan politics is something that could kill anything it touches because it is in my mind a mindless creeping disease that only serves to get worse over time.

There is no one, and i do mean absolutely no one who thinks that the Nassau Coliseum does not need to be replaced.

Everyone agrees that Long Island cannot afford to lose all the good that comes from having such a venue to go to without having to go to Brooklyn or Manhattan not just to see a hockey game, but for anything.

Pro Wrestling, Ice shows, circus events, Disney on Ice, Concerts the list goes on and on.

Yes the Islanders need a new home, we all know that. But this goes way beyond what the Islanders need. This is what Long Island and Nassau County needs. I would absolutely love to be able to bring my kids not only to an Islander game or two at this venue but maybe go see Monday Night Raw without having to sit uncomfortable in the seats that are so bad.

I am a Life long Nassau County resident. I am voting myself a tax increase tomorrow and for the first time I will know exactly where that tax money is going.

Can anyone tell me exactly where my tax increase dollars are going when I vote for a 4-12 percent school tax increase? They get over 56 million dollars to run my school district. Why do they need such a mammoth increase every single year?

Yet we keep doing it because of the signs they plaster all over the place that say "Vote for the Kids."

People will vote themselves anything as long as it is for the kids.

This arena is not for the kids. Its for EVERYONE.

You will hear account after account of people saying why we should vote no tomorrow.

They blame Chalres Wang for not building the arena with his own money.

Yeah OK, the guy is going to build something that essentially isn't his?

Everyone knew that his money went away when the Town of Hempstead killed the Lighthouse project.

Everyone says well the Giants, Jets, Mets and Yankees all built their new sports venues not with public money, but with private money.

Really? Really? REALLY?

Where did the land come from that the new Yankee stadium is built on? Where did the money come from to help pay for the new Football stadium in East Rutheford? How many tax breaks did the four of the richest sports franchises in the United States get to build their palaces?

The answers are right in front of you - in one way or another out of your pocket.

Instead of thinking about what Partisan politics or financial agendas are telling us to do why don't we look at that building sitting on Hempstead Turnpike in Uniondale and let that tell us what the right thing to do is.

Please post your comments below and if you would be so kind as to tell us why you think it should be a yes or no vote.


Anonymous said...

Charles Wang is worth 1 billion dollars, so why doesn't he build the Arena with his own money? Why not illicit dollars from corporate America like Pepsi and GE? Why not sell some of his interest in the team to raise money? Why not sell PSL licenses to the so called fan base, who are screaming for the non fan base to fund this arena? It is totally outrageous, that Wang expects the residents of Nassau county to fund his palace, in which the majority of the taxpayers don't even go to the venue. This is his baby, so let him pay for it, if he feels the Islanders are going to be profitable with a new arena.

Anonymous said...


Charles Wang made a privately funded project proposal, called, The Lighthouse, that was with the corporate funds that you talked about. In a public bid, his group won the RFP bid. This was a Privately funded project, that would have generated enough revenue to renovate the Coliseum. After having County approval, it was rejected by the Town of Hempstead as being "too dense". Charles Wang has stated many times that building a new coliseum, by itself is NOT a profitable proposition.
Regarding the fan base, look deeper:
The coliseum is not just for Islander fans, but it would not exist without the team. Without the team and it's 40+ dates, the arena would not generate enough revenue to pay to keep it open. So, we would be left with the most prime piece of real estate on LI vacant. Or, the TOH could approve the privately funded Lighthouse, the area would generate jobs and badly needed tax base for the county, without public funds.Wang was pushing this for years.This benefits everyone including those "who don't even go to the venue". The majority of Nassau residents do not ever go to Eisenhower park, which is totally funded publically. Should we close that down also???? Simply asking Wang or ANYONE to build an arena on land they do not own, at their cost, is simply something that no one would or should be expexted,to do.

FCT said...

Anonymous said everything that was needed to be said to the original poster... Hey i have an idea, why doesnt Charles Wang build me my new kitchen.. hey he can afford it right?

Paddy McGrory said...

Did everyone in Nassau County forget about the saying "you need to spend money to make money"? The jobs and future revenue the arena would have created the county, a county struggling with debt, would have washed out the 18-58 dollar yearly tax increase after a family member collected their first paycheck from the new job created by the project. Instead you will most likely enjoy another tax increase to pay for all the unemployment checks being paid out each year. The people in the town of Hempstead are now not going to enjoy the probable rise in property value of their homes for being in the vicinity of a "city center". A prime example is the rise my parents enjoyed living within a 2 mile radius of a place in Arizona called Keirland Commons. Its located on the NE Phoenix-Scottsdale border. When we moved to the area from Mastic in Suffolk County, the area was desert. The house they bought was worth about 120,000 dollars and was 5yrs old. After the city of Phoenix ok'd the project the value went to 150,000. After the project was finished the house was worth 250,000 dollars on less than a 1/4 acre of land with no grass, few trees and about 10ft of space on both sides to your neighbors house. The area is now considered "prime" real estate and a "rich" neighborhood. All because a couple rich guys decided to build a hotel with a golf course and a high end shopping area on the outskirts of the city. More construction followed both sides of the border of the 2 cities and now its a city within the city for well to do people from all over the country and the top tourist area in the state. So to make a long story short the people of Nassau County turned down a chance at the same thing because they didn't want to pay less than 60cents a year at most. And even worse the people in County Politics rejected the original plan which would have been completely free. Maybe its time to re-think your vote Nassau County and form a giant line to kiss Charles Wang's ass for another chance for him to make you money.