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Ratner, Wang Tapped To Help County Solve Coliseum Conundrum

Renaissance Downtown chosen as master developer

The owner who decided to move the New York Islanders off Long Island once its lease expires in June 2015 may play a role in filling the potential void left by the teams’ departure. County Executive Edward P. Mangano, developer Bruce Ratner, Isles owner Charles Wang and Don Monti of Renaissance Downtown think they have a plan in place to solve the developmental conundrum that is the Hub, which includes Nassau Coliseum.

The group announced a strategic “Reuse Plan” on Tuesday, Nov. 20 that reportedly will transform the Coliseum within the first half of 2013. Others have tried and failed where Ratner is venturing and the 77-acre site in Uniondale could become barren in three years once Wang departs for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

The study will ultimately determine the cost of the yet-to-be-known plan, according to Mangano. His main concern is a 40-year-old, 18,000-seat empty building.

“This is a process to avoid a darkened Coliseum,” Mangano said. “With the news of the Islanders choosing to go to Barclays, that creates the possibility of a darkened Coliseum. That’s something I don’t want to see and that’s why we’re going down this path today.”

Ratner, for free, will advise the county on how to proceed to make the Coliseum economically viable to compete for concerts, sports venues and big-ticket events. Monti, founder of the Plainview-based real estate firm was named the master developer for the rest of the Hub site.

It is unclear what cost will be incurred to county taxpayers. Any public monies needed for the project would need to be approved by the county legislature.

 “You have my personal commitment that we will hit the ground running,” Monti said. “I recognize that [Renaissance’s] selection represents a vote of confidence and I can assure that we will not take that responsibility lightly.”

Monti will work with RXR Realty, a firm that aligned with Wang to propose the failed $3.8 billion Lighthouse Project. Where Wang fits into the picture is unknown. He signed a 25-year lease with Ratner after announcing the Islanders would be moving to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 NHL season.

“When you’re dealt lemons, you make lemonade,” Mangano stated. “Here in this case, Charles [Wang] has made a decision to go to [the] Barclays. We continue to talk and maintain a relationship and this [plan] has come out of that.”

Mangano would not directly address any rumored animosity that Wang and he might have had for one another. The county executive would not reveal how he and Ratner met or where the idea originated.

“[Ratner] is a good corporate citizen and we’re thrilled to have him on the team to reinvent Nassau Coliseum,” said Mangano.

Wang was present, but declined to comment during the press conference. Mangano called the Marriot Hotel owner a “key stakeholder” and that “he cares about Long Island.” The hotel is adjacent to the arena, a space in which Wang has total control.

“We need to get something done with the Coliseum and there is no better person than Bruce to entrust for this project,” said Wang in a statement. “Bruce is a passionate individual with a proven track record.  Once we have his road map, we must work together to bring this to fruition.  There are too many jobs at stake and this is too important for Nassau County.”

Ratner successfully secured the New Jersey Nets and Islanders relocation to the Atlantic Avenue arena. While jokingly saying the Coliseum needed “spiffing up,” he affirmed it’s in need of a makeover.

“I’m hear to talk about the reuse of the Coliseum and our ability to put together a plan that we think will make a lot of sense and will work,” Ratner said. “In Brooklyn, we were able to put together a program and an arena that everybody feels is incredibly positive and helpful and our goal is to put together something here, which everybody will be proud of.”

News

This year you can expect to see the Freedom Schooner Amistad, Connecticut’s flagship, tied up on the Western Waterfront Pier at the Oyster Festival on Oct. 18 and 19. The ship is a Baltimore Clipper that is 129 feet in length and weighs 96 tons. Its home port is New Haven, Conn.

The tall ship visits ports worldwide, as an ambassador for friendship. It serves as a floating classroom, icon and monument to many souls that were broken or lost as the result of the transatlantic slave trade.

The original Amistad, which means friendship in Spanish, was made famous in 1839 when 53 African captives (men, women and children) transported from Havana revolted against their captors. The captives gained control of the ship under the leadership of Sengbe Pieh, later known as Joseph Cinque, who commanded the ship’s navigator to return them to Sierra Leone. Instead, the ship headed north, landing in Long Island, and was taken into custody by the United States Navy.

Diamond Fitness held its grand opening on Saturday, Sept. 6. Members of the Historic Oyster Bay-East Norwich Chamber of Commerce came out to meet Wendy Goldstein, her staff and her re-invented gym at 138 South St.

Goldstein said she was touched by the warmth of the people who came into the gym to welcome her, even before the official opening. “People came in to say hello, saying they had heard that the gym had changed hands. It warms my heart,” she said.

Goldstein attended a chamber meeting and is now a member. Nassau County Legislator Donald McKenzie helped Goldstein cut the red ribbon as chamber members Walter Imperatore and Michele Browner cheered the opening along with staff members and friends.


Sports

Football season is here and the Oyster Bay-Bayville Generals  held their opening day games on Sept. 14. Here are the results:

5 & 6 Peanuts:

The Peanuts opened the season vs. the Seaford Broncos and came out on the losing end of a hard fought game. The Lil Generals opened the game on offense and quarterback Rodney Hill, Jr. marched the offense down the field and completed the drive with a touchdown pass to Francesco Allocca. Yes, the Peanuts have a potent air attack with Hill Jr. going two for two for 26 yards. The defense played strong with Allocca leading the team in tackles with help on the defensive line from first-year players Dean Wolfe and Anthony Pelchuck.  

Former football coach and NFL player Bill Curry recently brought a wealth of experience, knowledge and history to a wide audience of student-athletes and coaches at Hofstra University for a lesson on diversity, tolerance and respect in high school athletics.

 

Director of the NYS PHSAA Sportsmanship Committee and Manhasset High School Athletic Director Jim Amen Jr. established the summit and invited Curry as keynote speaker.

Amen Jr. and Section VIII Executive Director Nina Van Erk introduced Curry to a crowd representing more than 37 local high schools.


Calendar

Movie: Godzilla

Thursday, Sept. 25

Bayville Car Show

Friday, Sept. 26

Plein Art Competition

Saturday, Sept. 27



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com