Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Arena Things that Made Me Go Hmmmmm...

I am so going to get killed, but I had to write this at work as fast as possible. Excuse the typos and grammatical errors as I hide in my office!

A few things have been bothering me as I’ve read the articles that grace the front page of our local paper. I am of the notion that they are being written in a distinctively negative light, when (according to the unwritten law of the unbiased press corps) perhaps that is my own personal opinion because I do not like the vehicle itself. Whether Newsday is being fair and unbiased in their reporting or not, as a reader I had some questions.

The first was why either side would be looking for language regarding the sale of the Islanders. Of course this made me nervous as visions of Jim Balsille driving a giant Blackberry up to the coliseum made me shudder. But in speaking with Mr. Michael Picker I found out that “ There is no option out of the lease for the team. But Charles doesn’t have to be the owner forever. “ The lease would transfer with the sale of the team. Charles Wang only has to remain the owner for the first two years after it is built." After all he’ll be 67 in August almost 70 then. Any new owner would have to be able to pay the price for it and be approved by the NHL (see Phoenix Coyotes, Atlanta Thrashers, etc.) and would be taking on the balance of the arena lease and its conditions.

For those who have said there are still Long Island residents that do not know anything about the August 1st Referendum vote and asked me where the high visibility campaign is – it’s coming. Even I was wondering why I hadn’t heard more about it on the radio or TV. (This is IMPORTANT people!)

There is a media campaign under way with radio and print ads (see today’s Newsday) and other promotional media – some of which you can even pick up at the Coliseum. There is also a flyer you can use to educate any of your friends that may not know the facts about what Long Island will lose. A campaign committee had to be created in order to legally be able to promote the vote. The newly created Campaign committee will have to disclose their finances to a state board on Friday, which will be pretty easy.

The County itself should be putting forth information from a non-partisan group explaining that the estimated income from the new arena to the county should be no less than $19 Million a year while the debt service will be $25.6 million per year. Therefore the shortfall actually will be more towards $13.80 a year per taxpaying property owner, or .26 a week and not the $58 per year (which is still pretty low) that has been repeatedly reported. You have more change than that $.26 under your couch pillows. Go look.

Over 2000 people drew a paycheck last year from the Nassau Coliseum. Without a new arena, where will those people work? Where will the tax revenue the County and Town of Hempstead will lose come from? Easy; the same taxpayers who are going to vote on this referendum on August 1st.

They can either have much higher taxes, more layoffs and less services from the cash strapped county, or they can pay .26 a week for a new Coliseum with job opportunities, entertainment and yes – The New York Islanders for the next few decades ; no matter WHO owns them down the road.

The answer should be easy. The answer should be YES!
Vote: Yes.


Chris Dixon said...

How heavily are people taxed in the county as compared to neighboring communities?

I bleed Islanders Blue and Orange. But if the people can't afford (or do not want to pay) to have them there, maybe it's time to check the coats and move on. Compare it to regular life situations: You cannot afford that big truck and big house. What do you do when the money and credit finally run out? You have to let go.

I don't want them to move. I've been a fan since the early 80's. I think I will actually cry if they move. But... maybe the reality is that change may need to happen to allow this team to finally grow, and to allow the community to heal financially.

Just an outsider's perspective.

Toby said...

Thanks for making 'ownership/future ownership/future sale' part of lease clear. I didn't understand that part so much and also had questions/concerns.

Good read.

JM from Wantagh said...

Your comments don't fall on deaf ears. They just fall on only a select few. Unfortunately Newsday and it's selective reporting reach far more people. Or far less people in the case of positive reporting on the Isles. Nothing personal about Strang. She does a nice job with the coaches and players. But the business of politics seems to be left to others.

JPinVA said...

Nice work Dee. I would hope that every union member in NYC and on Long Island should get a mailing explaining why they should vote YES, or at least why they should convince their friends and relatives in Nassau County to do so.
Hopefully there are a few entities that are sharing the "MEDIA" cost, like the Uniondale Chamber of Commerce. What does Hempstead turnpike look like in terms of ancillary business from 2015 thru whenever something is built there.
It's not a pretty thought.
Keep fighting the good fight!

gstatman said...

Dee, my thoughts exactly. Although I am a season ticket holder, I do not have a vote because I am not a Nassau County, or even a Long Island, resident.

But, with the condition of Nassau County's finances, as Chris said, the thought has crossed my mind that maybe it is best they leave Nassau because the County clearly cannot afford it.

The point is that the time has finally come where inaction of what to do with those 77 acres of asphalt in the Hub would cost the taxpayers more if the vote fails than if it passes.

For Newsday to ignore or downplay this fact is simply not serving the local public interest.