Voters to Decide on Plan for New Hockey Arena

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Officials on Long Island want to ask voters this summer to approve a $400 million plan to build a new hockey arena next to the current home of the New York Islanders.

    Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announced plans Wednesday to replace the aging Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum with a new arena next door. The plan requires $350 million in bonding over 30 years. Voters also would be asked to approve $50 million in bonds for a minor league baseball park nearby.

    Charles Wang: "This Is My Home."

    [NY] Charles Wang: "This Is My Home."
    Islanders Owner Charles Wang opened up about the long delayed arena project that would finally provide a new home for the Islanders. Wang, who saw his Lighthouse project shot down, professed his love for Long Island, and admitted that it's hard to compete with the NHL's elite while playing in the league's second oldest venue. A referendum will be presented to Nassau County residents, if lawmakers give the project a green light. Bruce Beck was on hand in Uniondale.

    "We are asking residents to invest in this county," Mangano said.

    Workers rallied Wednesday, chanting "Build it now," holding a sign that read "We need jobs now!!!"

    Some residents aren't yet convinced.

    "Why should we pay for this project? It's just too much," said Mary Anne Hindy, of East Meadow. "I don't even go to Islander games."

    Under the proposal, the coliseum's main tenant, the New York Islanders, would pay Nassau County a portion of every dollar generated at the new arena, Mangano said.

    "The intention is that this project won't cost the taxpayers a dime," Mangano added.

    The Islanders would stay on Long Island until 2045 if the new arena is built, said Islanders owner Charles Wang.

    In addition, the county is lobbying state officials to open a casino at Belmont park, Mangano said.

    Nassau is negotiating with the Shinnecock Indians to complete the deal.  No deal has been finalized.

    The proposal is the latest in a series of efforts to renovate the coliseum and 77 acres of real estate surrounding it.

    Wang proposed an ambitious $3.8 billion development in 2003, but it never got off the ground.

    The referendum, if approved by lawmakers, would take place Aug. 1.