A few years ago we had the Democrats pushing to use private money to rebuild the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. This was called The Lighthouse. The Republicans (Kate Murray) put a stop to that. Now it’s the Republicans turn and they’re pushing to use public money to build a brand new arena, minor league baseball stadium and a track and field facility. And to top it all off, the Republicans have the unions on their side. What is wrong with this picture? Well, just think about it: Democrats wanted to use private money while the Republicans want to use public. Does that make sense? Well it does in Nassau County: The Bizzarro World of Politics.
The New York Islanders’ lease runs out in 2015 and the NHL does not want them to play in the current building one day longer. Now we have this vote on August 1st which will decide the fate of the Coliseum, the Islanders, and most importantly: Long Island. County Executive Edward Mangano is asking the residents of Nassau County for the borrowing of $400 million which will pay for this new sports complex. This investment will cost you (the taxpayer) as little as $13 or as high as $58 for two years. After two years, when the arena is complete, Charle Wang, owner of the Islanders, will take over and pay off the rest with the revenue he makes.
Why do we need this?
Well, for one thing, the Nassau Coliseum currently employes 2600 people. Not including the construction jobs, this new development will add a few thousand more. We cannot lose these jobs. I keep reading articles on why young adults are leaving Long Island; they are constantly talking about the cost of living, yet they never mention the Long Island job market (aka, young people don’t want to live here.) The path we are going down is Nassau is an economy based solely on retail. For example: Nassau County had the Avis Rent a Car national headquarters on Old Country Road in Westbury. What happened? Avis left and the lot is currently being transformed into another strip center (see – Gallery at Westbury Plaza) that is sandwiched between the Source Mall and Roosevelt Field Mall.
Are these the jobs we want our kids to have after we spend so much money on their education? Or do we want them to aim higher? I have nothing against retail jobs, but our entire economy cannot be based solely on retail. The entertainment dollars, tax revenue, and economic impact that a new arena will have will open up the possibility for so many new and different jobs.
This referendum is PLAN B. The Lighthouse was PLAN A. There is no PLAN C. If this vote doesn’t go though, then the coliseum will go vacant. More strip malls will come after 20 years of that land being fenced off and covered with weeds. Do we really want that to happen? Besides, the last thing we need is for a national sports team to leave Nassau County. It could happen and it won’t be the first time (NETS, JETS, cough cough….).
The bottom line is this: We all don’t want our property taxes to increase, me including. I pay these taxes. But if the coliseum closes then we will lose this major tax generating money machine and we all will suffer because of it. (Please see NEWSDAY –Tax hike if no Coliseum deal, report warns). This small fee of $13 to $58 is all we have to pay for the next two years. It’s an investment for the future of Long Island.
If that doesn’t convince you, the great Nick Giglia on his blog Let There Be Light(house) writes:
“The arena deal will benefit from the same effect. The debt service on the bond will be similar to a fixed rate mortgage. The county will be responsible for approximately $26 million each year for 30 years. However, the revenue stream will increase each year due to inflation. The price of the things that constitute the revenues subject to sharing under the lease — tickets, concessions, parking — are all subject to the trend of price inflation that effects the entire economy.” Source – Why The Arena Deal Is Like Your Fixed Rate Mortgage (And Why This Matters)
Nick also questions why the Nassau County Democrats are changing their figures. In his article The Question the Anti-Arena Nassau Democrats Should Be Made To Answer, Nick writes:
[REGARDING THE ARENA REVENUES] “in a 2006 report commissioned by Democrat Tom Suozzi when he was County Executive regarding redevelopment proposals of the Hub……estimated Coliseum revenues rising from a bit over $200M in 2009 over $400M in 2035……
The question for anti-arena Nassau Democrats: Why are you telling County residents that voting Yes on August 1st is going to cost the County $12 million a year? Were you lying to Nassau residents then or are you lying to them now?’
Still not convinced? Well, then just read the following articles:
On Islanderspointblank, in an article called GROWING UP IN, AND THEN LEAVING NASSAU Would Isles move be final straw for local youths? Kevin asks
“Why is it that when I walk around the mall, go to the movies (and to a lesser extent) the beach, all I see are families, high schoolers and retirees?”…..”What are we building for the future? What reasons are we giving our kids to stay here?”
Also on Islanderspointblank, in an article called THE MANY BENEFITS OF THE NEW ARENA DEAL Be Real: Charles Wang is not out to rip anyone off, Chris Botta writes:
“When you buy a professional sports team, your legacy is at stake. After all these years, do you really think Wang followed up his I’ll-pay-for-everything Lighthouse Project with this deal without any concern for the future of Nassau and its residents?’
While writing this piece, I came across a Newsday article that had a quote that summed up exactly how I feel about this entire issue. (see – Unions, restaurateurs rally for Coliseum). The quote is as follows:
“Long Island is dead; its economy is dead,” said [William M.] Weitzman [Nassau County Labor Commissioner]. “But the Coliseum is the answer. It will create jobs that will create more jobs.”