By Raanan Geberer & Frank Eltman
Brooklyn Daily Eagle & Associated Press
A decade-long effort to renovate the aging and dilapidated Nassau Coliseum moved a step closer to fruition on Thursday when officials chose Forest City Ratner, the developer of Brooklyn's Barclays Center and MetroTech, to redevelop the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and its surrounding 77-acre property.
The selection of Nassau Events Center LLC, a team headed by Forest City Ratner, over the Madison Square Garden Co. for the $229 million job was announced by County Executive Edward P. Mangano following a months-long competition that initially involved four bidders.
The announcement comes nearly a year after the coliseum's primary tenant, the NHL’s New York Islanders, said the team would move from the coliseum to Barclays in the 2015 season.
“We are grateful to be selected to revitalize Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” said Bruce Ratner, chair of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner. “I would like to thank Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and his team for a transparent and well-managed process. We understand and proudly accept the tremendous responsibility that accompanies this project and the impact it has on future generations of Long Islanders.”
According to the Nets Daily site, under Ratner’s plan, the same aggregation of businesses that built Barclays -- including SHoP architects and Hunt Bros. Construction -- would downsize the mammoth arena to 13,000 seats. It would also build a 2,500-seat outdoor amphitheater, 50,000 square feet of retail space and a veterans’ memorial on-site.
The arena would be operated by Legends, the company headed by former Knicks president Dave Checketts.
Ratner also reported that the Nets would play one single-season game and the Islanders four regular season and two pre-season games, according to Nets Daily.
The plan still requires the approval of the Nassau County Legislature, but observers said it was likely the GOP majority in the legislature would go along with the Republican county executive's selection.
The finalists had engaged in high-profile television and print advertising campaigns while vying for the right to develop the property. A public session to discuss the proposals last spring featured an appearance by music mogul and hip-hop star Jay Z, whose company is affiliated with the Ratner group.
Nassau County officials and others have been struggling to renovate the coliseum, built in 1972, for nearly a decade. In 2004, the Islanders' billionaire owner, software executive Charles Wang, proposed a massive redevelopment of the property that would have included a soaring 60-foot office and condominium tower. That proposal failed to win either community or municipal support after residents expressed concerns about traffic and other issues.