Nassau Events Center LLC, an affiliate of Forest City Enterprises, has been awarded the rights to develop the site of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, County Executive Edward Mangano announced today. The Forest City bid beat out a rival effort from the Madison Square Garden Company.
“I am pleased to announce that Nassau Events Center, LLC is the successful proposer to transform the 43-year old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Plaza into an attractive, first class destination for family fun, sports and entertainment,” Mr. Mangano said in a prepared statement. “This is also the unanimous recommendation of the County’s RFP Committee.”
NEC has been awarded a 34-year lease for the site, with a 15-year option, and will invest a minimum of $229 million in to renovating both the Coliseum and the surrounding concrete Plaza. Per the terms of the lease agreement, Nassau County will receive a minimum lease term payment of $195 million.
The lease will now be sent to the Nassau County Legislature in the next step in the approval process, according to the county’s statement.
Outlining reasons favoring the NEC bid, Mr. Mangano pointed to an agreement for the Forest City affiliate to accept all costs for operating and providing utilities at the Coliseum beginning in August 2015. Additionally, the minimum annual rent to be paid by NEC totaled $1.4 million per year more than the MSG bid.
“In conclusion, the Committee viewed NEC’s willingness to accept, at Islanders/SMG lease expiration, immediate financial and managerial responsibility for the Coliseum at its sole expense, to pay rent to the County before and during construction, and to pay a measurably higher annual minimum rent with higher escalations as primary characteristics that contributed to distinguishing NEC’s commitment and confidence from the proposal submitted by MSG,” the statement noted.
Last year, the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders franchise, tenants of the Coliseum since the 1970s, announced plans to relocate to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Islanders franchise had previously sought Nassau County taxpayer funding to redevelop the Coliseum and stay on Long Island.
Forest City has proposed a ShoP Architects plan for the renovated Coliseum and has touted the possibility of the New York Islanders returning to Long Island to play some of the team’s regular season games.
In a statement provided to The Commercial Observer, the Madison Square Garden Company expressed disappointment with the decision.
“While we are disappointed with the County’s decision, we are not at all surprised given the history of this project, and will be watching closely as this process moves to the County Legislature,” the company’s statement said. “We continue to believe that Madison Square Garden’s proposal, expertise and proven track record represent the best and most realistic opportunity to revitalize the Nassau Coliseum. We remain deeply supportive of the efforts to create a rich and vibrant destination for all Long Island residents, and sincerely hope that, regardless of today’s decision, Long Island ultimately gets the world-class destination it deserves.”