The Battle for Long Island: Four Major Players Vie for Nassau Coliseum

Exterior rendering of a renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which could include  additional venues and retail stores. (Courtesy of Madison Square Garden)

MSGC indeed has a strong personal connection to Long Island, which is home to the Dolan family that controls the business. The Dolans, who also control Cablevision Systems, are entrenched in the Long Island market in terms of media: MSG Network (which has telecast Islanders games for 30 years), MSG Plus and Fuse have 700,000 subscribers on Long Island, and the MSG ticket buyer database boasts 650,000 Long Islander names. They also control the local newspaper, Newsday. Word on the street is the Dolans want this one bad.
 
The Dolans’ allies are strong. MSG is partnered with developer the Cordish Cos. (the industry leader in developing entertainment districts around anchor venues) and architectural firm SCI Architects (overseeing the $1 billion transformation of MSG and the $75 million renovation of the Forum in Los Angeles), RXR Realty (“the largest land owner around this project,” MSGC’s Ratner says) and investment firm Jones Lang LaSalle, which is also involved in both the Garden and Forum projects.
 
MSGC’s “compelling, yet realistic plan” includes flex capacity from 14,500 (highest of the four bids) down to 1,700 seats. It’s projecting 330 events annually, including 150 free community events, along with the Long Island Live! entertainment district from Cordish. Private investment of $250 million would be committed to the project and, as opposed to a multiple-phase development, the arena and district projects would go up concurrently.
 
New York Sports & Entertainment is partnered with Philadelphia-based facility management firm Global Spectrum in a bid for an interior renovation of the Nassau Coliseum, keeping the exterior as is, gutting the interior and significantly downsizing capacity to about 8,000 for hockey and 10,000 for concerts or basketball, according to NYS&E CEO Bernard Shereck. It, too, would go with all private funding, with the cost estimated between $50 million and $70 million. “We don’t believe it will exceed $100 million,” he says.
 
Shereck, a native Canadian and self-proclaimed “hockey guy,” owns the Arena of Long Beach (N.Y.) and holds the rights for an East Coast Hockey League minor-league franchise on Long Island, as well as a professional indoor lacrosse team.
 
Global Spectrum is an industry leader, operating 36 arenas, 30 convention centers and 10 stadiums, among other venues, for a total of 114. The firm also has ticketing operations (Paciolan, New Era), concessions (Ovations) and marketing/sponsorships (Front Row Marketing Services). “We have an agreement in place with Global Spectrum to manage the building and we’re the ones putting up the money,” Shereck says. “We’re David going against Goliath. And you know what happened to Goliath.”
 
Blumenfeld Development Group, led by Long Island developer Edward Blumenfeld, is working with SMG, the coliseum’s incumbent manager, as well as Mark Rosentraub, a professor of sports management at the University of Michigan. Their plan calls for demolishing the current arena and building a new 10,000-seat arena and a 100,000-square-foot convention center, along with an adjacent residential/retail/entertainment development at some point. The estimated cost of the new arena/exhibition center is approximately $200 million, while cost or timetable isn’t immediately available for the adjacent development.
 
SMG’s incumbent status would seem a plus, as under SMG’s management Nassau Coliseum has held its own in an increasingly competitive market, especially with the Barclays Center still in the honeymoon stage. So far this year the arena has hosted Luke Bryan, Ricardo Arjona, the Who, P!nk, Romeo Santos, Rick Ross, Miranda Lambert/Dierks Bentley and the “X Factor” auditions.
 

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