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May 12, 2011

Nassau exec proposes $400m Islanders arena, to be paid for by (mumble-mumble, hey look over there!)

Stop the presses, the New York Islanders arena project lives! A year and a half after team owner Charles Wang declared an impasse, Nassau County announced a revived arena plan yesterday:

A suburban county placed under a state fiscal watchdog earlier this year will ask voters this summer to let it borrow $400 million to replace the New York Islanders' aging arena, as well as construct a minor league baseball park nearby.
If approved, the proposal to replace the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum will keep the NHL team on Long Island until 2045, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said at a raucous news conference Wednesday. The event at the nearly 40-year-old arena featured several hundred union workers in the grandstands chanting "build it now," as well as a smattering of Islanders fans decked out in the team's blue and orange jerseys.
Mangano insisted that revenue from the Islanders and sales tax generated by the new arena would be enough to repay the $400 million in bonds over the course of a new 30-year lease for the team, although neither he nor Islanders owner Charles Wang offered specifics on the financial arrangement.

So who exactly would be paying off the bonds? As noted above, Mangano wasn't exactly saying. "Revenue from the sales tax generated by the new arena" sure sounds like a STIF, though, which is an extremely dangerous funding method given that 1) you could just end up cannibalizing existing sales tax receipts and 2) there's always the danger that if the economy slumps, sales tax receipts will go down, and then you end up having to dip into the general fund to make the bond payments. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which took over the county's finances in January, seems to agree, issuing a statement that it's "deeply concerned" about the arena plan and its "fiscal implications for the county."

Either way, though, it looks like this thing is going to a vote of Nassau County residents on August 1. According to New York Magazine's cite of the paywalled Newsday, "pressed for details about the revenue-sharing agreement -- and whether those figures would be available to the public before the August vote -- Mangano said, 'If it can be done, it will be.'" Now that's reassuring.


I'm pretty sure the Oilers mouth pieces (see: Bob Stauffer) will be touting Long Island as being progressive and doing what's necessary to "stay major league".

Of course if this gets defeated around the same time the Oilers and the city make a deal the spin changes to "the Island is just not committed to hockey and that's just sad..."

Posted by Andrew T on May 12, 2011 10:20 AM

Hey, they can't all rush to Winnipeg at once...

Posted by Anderson on May 12, 2011 11:48 AM

the devil(s) are in the details - bettman, wang and mangano.
no mention of a cost overrun provision, who gets the naming rights $$$'s and revenue shortfall coverage as well as many others.
vague projections and slight-of-hand deserve the dust bin.

Posted by paul W. on May 12, 2011 12:16 PM

So he had the money to build his dream of a Lighthouse Project but not the money to build a 400 million dollar arena.

Makes sense? : /

Posted by SRP on May 12, 2011 12:50 PM

The Islander/County deal looks like a "Stalking Horse" for other referendums coming down the turnpike next year (See Santa Clara & maybe San Jose for the A's). Personally speaking, I think it will pass, because of the August 1st date (Although actually funding of the project may get stopped by the NIFA). However, if it is actually voted down, it will give a lot of hope for those who want to stop other Sports Stadium Construction.

Posted by David Brown on May 12, 2011 05:06 PM

Hey, how 'bout that Barclays Center?

Posted by Eli Griffen on May 15, 2011 12:57 PM

This is 2011. There isn't a government entity in the United States that's not in deep fiscal distress. Unemployment remains high. Most Americans will have insufficient funds to retire. If voters vote to fund these playgrounds for rich athletes, then shame on 'em. Let 'em live in their cars.

Posted by JTW on May 15, 2011 08:20 PM

Barclays Center won't work thanks to its final design. Had the arena stuck with the Gehry proposal it would, but due to the structure's layout (under construction, mind you), hockey rinks don't fit properly. Think how the Coyotes used to look in the Suns arena for reference.

Posted by EA on May 16, 2011 03:44 AM

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