Today is the deadline for Ed Mangano’s Request for Qualifications from developers for the Coliseum property. There hasn’t been any news yet as to who or how many developers have submitted an RFQ to the County Executive. The way these things seem to go, we may be waiting a few days. Over at NY Hockey Journal, Christian Arnold has an excellent wrap up of everything that is going on.
One of the many possibilities presented for the development of the Nassau Hub had been building a ballpark for a minor league baseball team. The Lighthouse Project had included a minor league ballpark and last summer’s arena referendum included a $50 million allotment of the proposed $400 million to build a ballpark as well. It’s a possibility that is still being talked about, even a year after the referendum’s defeat.
Last Thursday in a speaking engagement at Hofstra University, Long Island Ducks part-owner Bud Harrelson said the dream of a ballpark at the Hub wasn’t dead yet. He spoke about the history and business of the Ducks as well his own experiences playing baseball. According to a source who was in the audience and spoke to Harrelson afterwards, Harrelson said Long Island Ducks owner Fred Boulton has secured the rights to own and place another team in the independent Atlantic League and that minor league baseball is still a viable option for the Hub property. Boulton owns the Ducks, their cross-sound rival the Bridgeport Bluefish and created the league in the late 1990s.
As it stands, the Bluefish are the main rival for the Ducks and the two franchises are under very different financial management. An article on Deadspin in May detailed the Bluefish and contrasted them with the Ducks. They were described as two teams being managed very differently:
It’s during the Long Island series that I start to realize how tired and frustrated [the Bluefish ballpark] can feel. Boulton doesn’t show up to any of the games, but it’s not hard to tell which of his teams is his favorite. The Ducks’ dugout boasts five coaches; the Bluefish use their bus driver as the first-base coach on the road. The Ducks have seven employees with the word “sales” in their title; Boulton keeps laying off people on the Bluefish’s business side. To be fair, he’s done some good things as well, like replacing the stadium’s splotchy playing surface and fixing those leaks. Boulton probably kept the Bluefish from moving or folding. But that has less to do with his love of Bridgeport or baseball than with the fact that the whole league saves travel money when there are two adjacent teams.
So what would be more convenient than the Ducks having a cross-sound rival? A cross-island rival that’s only a short trip down the LIE away. It’s not hard to see why an owner would be cutting costs in Bridgeport. It could likely be to save money while he waits for the go-ahead to start another team up in Nassau. It’s been a long wait but there’s still talk of a minor league park at the Nassau hub and it’s coming from one of Boulton’s ownership partners. And don’t think this would take anything away from the Islanders — a minor league ball park can be built in as few as six acres. The entire hub property is 77 acres.
A ballpark on the Hub would be what it was in the Lighthouse Project and the Referendum; an addition to the main proposal. Twice a minor league park has been in the plans and the Ducks leadership appears to be angling themselves to be in the mix again if and when there’s a third initiative. If the pieces start to fall into place, the Islanders could have a neighbor and the Ducks would have a new rival. It’s yet another piece to a very complicated puzzle that has many interested parties.