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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.”