While the on-ice future of the New York Islanders seems promising (unless you look at gambling odds), the team is still in limbo when it comes to their arena. Voters shot down a plan for a new arena on August 1, which seemed to curb a last-ditch effort to keep the team in Long Island.
As it turns out, that might not be the last trick locals have up their sleeves, though. Randi F. Marshall of New York Newsday reports that a task force revealed a $345.6 million plan to renovate Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding area (reportedly 77 acres) into a “sports-entertainment complex.” Here’s a quick rundown of what the proposal would entail, according to Marshall’s report.
- A private developer would spend $100 million to renovate Nassau Coliseum. The goal would be to literally raise the roof of the arena by 25 feet, which could boost the maximum attendance from about 16,000 fans to between 17,000 and 20,000 seats. (This would obviously maximize the profits that the Islanders could generate if they become a bigger draw again.)
- As far as the surrounding area, the plan would call for a minor league ballpark, a large parking garage, a new indoor rink intended for practices/the public and 70,000 square feet available for other businesses.
Francis Corva – one of the architects who helped put together the proposal – believes that it would be a good move for the area.
“It would be an economic boost for Long Island,” Corva said. “This is vitality being brought to a site which has none at the present time, which is something we will need.”
So far, Newsday reports that government officials are divided (or not commenting) on the issue. Here’s how Islanders owner Charles Wang reacted to the report.
Wang, who has said the Islanders will not play in the current arena after the team’s lease expires in 2015, said, “If somebody comes up with anything definitive, we will obviously look at it. I can tell you one thing very definitively. Oct. 8 the puck drops. And we will have a hell of a season.”
The idea is obviously in its earliest stages, so there’s no telling if it has legs. It would certainly be interesting to dramatically alter Nassau Coliseum to avoid building a new arena altogether, although renovated arenas haven’t always worked out so well for teams in struggling markets.
It might be a while before the proposal gets in front of government and Islanders officials, so we’ll keep an eye on the situation. If nothing else, it’s great to see that locals aren’t giving up on the concept of keeping the team around.
(H/T to Puck Daddy.)