Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:Today, Forest City Ratner was announced as the winner of the request-for-proposals for the Nassau Coliseum site (check out their plan here).
There’s still a ways to go before things are completely and totally finalized to the point where we can finally put decades of failed Coliseum development in the history books for good. Newsday’s Randi Marshall notes that the plan still needs to go through the County Legislature, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority — a state authority that watches the mismanaged County’s checkbook — and the Town of Hempstead’s zoning rules. The Town of Hempstead and its zoning rules, if you recall, is where the Lighthouse Project went to die, so this is still not completely settled.
However, the good news is that despite the Islanders move out of Nassau County, the better deal for Islanders fans still residing in Nassau County won out for the Coliseum property. Instead of an Islander themed sports bar that MSG was offering, Islander fans will maybe — pending NHL approval — be able to see six Islander games per year on Hempstead Turnpike. While that may seem like a token of pity to some people, and I know it does, it certainly beats a glorified Applebee’s with a couple signed jerseys. Heck, there’s even an extra million-plus in there to help the cash-strapped County.
Both groups have the ability to turn the Coliseum into a state-of-the-art facility with all the extra amenities that were promised. Even though both likely would have been just fine in terms of the facility and attractions that would be built, there’s only one that was more palatable to Islander County. That’s the one that won and the one that might at least attempt to do right by Islander fans. Hopefully, they will pay homage to the team that they helped move to Brooklyn.
Why not an Islanders museum at the Coliseum site? Or how about a real, physical, Islanders Hall of Fame with bronze busts instead of the current banner hanging from the ceiling? Charge ten bucks to see it and make it part of the arena concourse.
If the Islanders aren’t going to play in Hempstead Turnpike (and let’s all understand right here and now that they’re not. There’s more money, a better facility and an “iron clad” lease in Brooklyn), then the group that aided in the team’s move to Brooklyn should do right by the fans they’re leaving behind in Nassau. They already appear to be trying to do right by Isles fans, now is a great opportunity to go the extra mile. We all know MSG probably wouldn’t had they won the bid.