The Morning Skate: Coliseum Leftovers

Kevin Schultz

Last week, the big news was obviously Bruce Ratner’s group winning the RFP to redevelop the Coliseum. In Newsday, Randi Marshall detailed how the deal got done, which included intensive meetings from both sides.

Marshall writes that lawyers hired by the county met with each group — MSG and Forest City — twice a week for the last month for up to 10-hours per day trying to get the best deal. It was basically negotiations between the three sides, with the County’s lawyers trying to extract everything they could:

County officials said they tried to focus both finalists in the final weeks on limiting the county’s expenses, particularly for utilities and maintenance, taking ownership and control of the arena as early as possible, and giving the county revenue even before a newly renovated arena opened.

They also attempted to suggest to both parties that they rethink decisions that were not as favorable to the county, Gowell said. Gowell, for instance, encouraged both finalists to consider committing to additional revenue payments before and during construction. Ratner agreed, while MSG ultimately did not, Gowell noted.

Forest City’s final deal did end with the company assuming all utility costs for the arena, which is a reduction in County expenses by a couple million.

One of the things I found very interesting about the deal was that, even despite the delays in announcing the winner, the decision was never leaked. Apparently even Bruce Ratner himself didn’t know until minutes before the press conference:

On Thursday at 11:22 a.m., Mangano called Ratner to tell him the good news.

“He said he could cry,” Mangano recalled.

Ratner, meanwhile, had been waiting anxiously for the call. He knew Mangano would call before a scheduled 11:30 a.m. news conference, and believed the county executive would call the winner second. As the minutes ticked by, Ratner thought his chances improved.

As it turned out, Mangano called the winning group first.

Over at the Long Island Press, they break down the winners and losers. Islander fans, as it turns out, come in somewhere in the middle:

TIED
Islanders Fans
Die-hard fans will eventually have to take the Long Island Rail Road to Brooklyn to see their team play, but under the winning proposal, at least there will be six Isles’ games at the coliseum—four during the regular season and two pre-or-post season. So tailgate parties on the turnpike may just be rare and not totally a thing of the past.

Speaking of heading to Brooklyn, while most people focused on the Islanders likely staying at Nassau until their lease expires in 2015, the Post went the other way with an article titled Islanders admit slight chance at early exit from Long Island. The Post noted how the construction schedule could play out:

Once the Islanders agreed to move the franchise to Brooklyn, the talk began of how early they could leave. Now that Ratner and the owners of Barclays Center are the ones developing the Coliseum site, that process could be expedited by the fact the team’s departure can seamlessly coincide with the start of construction.

The only problems arise with the fact construction plans have to be drawn up, which can take up to a year, and then have to be approved by the Town of Hempstead — which, as Islanders’ owner Charles Wang can attest, can be a mighty arduous task.

Surprisingly, Mangano said no one has approached him in discussions about moving the team early. Yet he didn’t award Ratner the development bid until Thursday afternoon, so it’s only now they can begin drawing up plans.

While whether the Islanders head to Brooklyn early or not seems to be up in the air, Ratner seemed firm that the Sound Tigers would be heading to the Coliseum when the Islanders depart, whenever that departure date turns out to be. The CT Post once again spoke to the team’s President who again confirmed his team’s commitment to Bridgeport until Charles Wang says otherwise.

“We have a contractual agreement with the City of Bridgeport to put a hockey team in here,” Saffan said. “We absolutely do not have any agreement in place (to move the Sound Tigers). Our owner (Charles Wang) has not executed any agreement with Barclays (Ratner’s group also operates that building).”