Jul 16, 2011

Arena: NIFA, Extortion, Economic Loss - What Is Going On?

CH: It's been a while since we have posted on the arena subject, mostly due to busy work schedules, but much has happened since the last post, which was five days ago. Since then, we've had a front page on Newsday regarding NIFA's thoughts on the project, we've had extortion accusations from the office of County Executive Ed Mangano, and we finally received a valuation of the losses Nassau County will suffer if the Islanders leave town, even if it's just right over to Queens or Suffolk County.

To start with NIFA, we'll have to backtrack a little bit. NIFA met the other day to discuss the budget that Ed Mangano submitted, which of course was shot down. Without making an official statement on the Coliseum project, they pretty much all but criticized the project, even asking if Nassau fans wanted to voluntarily raise their property taxes. Ouch. What was really the most interesting part of all, as noted on Islanders Point Blank, was that the Islanders are not the main tenant. From what I understand, instead, it's Arenaco SPE (special entity), which essentially leaves the onus on Nassau County if the tenant defaults. The Islanders are not tied to the lease - Arenaco is - which means theoretically the Islanders could leave for Tokyo in 20 years if they so desired. Coupled with the fact that Nassau County is on the hook if the Islanders were to go bankrupt, things do not look as promising given NIFA's concerns.

That said, it places so much more importance on the vote itself. It is clear there need to be an overwhelming majority in favor of the referendum for the proper channels to put it through. A 51-49 split is not going to get it done. If you are in Nassau County and can vote, do NOT take this for granted. Get to the polls and get your vote in. Even if it "doesn't matter" for the majority vote, we need more than that. This needs to be a landslide and only the help of every Nassau County resident can the Islanders get there.

AT: I don't think anyone expected a positive response from NIFA, but even without an official comment, it was overwhelmingly negative. Definitely not what we needed right now and as Carey said, all the more reason that any lethargy from people should be quelled immediately. We need this to be an overwhelming victory.

CH: Last night, we read that the office of Ed Mangano has accused ABLI leader Desmond Ryan of extortion, saying that Ryan would have offered his support of the Coliseum plan if he got the rights to develop the Coliseum. Naturally, Ryan denied these claims. Well, this is interesting. It's certainly about time that Ed Mangano went on the offensive here. Ryan has been shooting his mouth off with misinformation about the plan to anyone that will listen. Newsday hasn't even mentioned his conflict of interest until about a week ago. Things certainly escalated when Ryan accused the Executive Office of campaigning their own plan. This situation with the ABLI is a complete mess, and it's both the faults of Mangano and Ryan. Mangano needed to shut this guy up immediately, and Ryan needs to live up to his organizations name and stop spewing lies about the plan just because he was not chosen to develop the land. It's immature, it's unnecessary, and it hurts Long Island and the people that live there.

AT: A real estate mogul looking to cash in for his own profit? Unheard of! I'm glad Mangano is finally going on the offensive about this. With 2 weeks till the vote, we can't let someone like Ryan sway any undecided minds. If he is the leader of the opposition (even if not in an official post), he needs to be silenced as the only thing we've heard from him has been nothing but lies.

CH: Finally, a report in Newsday finally came out about the economic effects of the Islanders leaving Nassau County. It's exactly what we have been waiting for, and the details are out in plain view. The County cannot afford to lose close to $250 million in tax revenue each year. Plain and simple, every dollar counts here, and the Islanders are a big contributor to helping the dollars flow in. With no tenant in the Nassau Coliseum, it's doors will close very soon after the Isles leave. It's clear that losing the Islanders has more implications than just a civic pride issue.

Overall, this situation has become messy. And I expect it to get messier as we get closer and closer to the vote. All I know is the Isles PR machine better be out in full force, because this is too important to let it slip away.

AT: It's about time. The stats are on the table. It should be a very simple vote: have your taxes go up substantially and permanently, or have them go up for a very short time and then have the money given back and more over the years. It's your choice, Nassau. Make the smart one. Time to hammer home that point in commercials, radio ads, and lots and lots of fliers.

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