Isles Bits: As if this Areener proposal would be easy

"Seriously, did Gordo lend you that tie? It's nice."

Last week was the fanfare, so with the weekend came the full-on second-guessing thought pieces. Newsday, which is pretty much going to be the paper of record and agenda-keeping during this 80-day saga, had an overview of some of the questions posed for the Nassau County executive's proposed referendum to replace Nassau Coliseum.

We get to those and other thoughts on the "areener" after the jump.

First, Newsday explained a most singular arrangement: Charles Wang has offered to pay for the cost of the referendum -- IF it passes:

A special election on whether to allow Nassau County to borrow up to $400 million to build a hockey arena and minor-league ballpark could cost as much as $1.8 million, a tab the Islanders say the team will reimburse if it gets the nod for a new Nassau Coliseum.

Islanders owner Charles Wang 's unusual offer would kick in only if the vote passes on Aug. 1, and the county legislature and the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which controls the county's finances, approve the bonding.

Legal experts Friday said they had never heard of such an arrangement. But Nassau officials said the reimbursement would be part of a final contract with Wang, vetted by the county attorney's office.

Outspoken NIFA (Nassau Interim Finance Authority) member George Marlin -- the guy who called the proposal a "complete waste of money" last week, called out the County for going public with a proposal "without providing an economic analysis, a feasibility study, a cost analysis, no figures in terms of the sharing of fees and no environmental impact study." He also called the County's response "sophomoric."

So we're all getting along just fine then. (For more into Marlin's view of the world, here's where he posts his views.)

Then came Newsday's big feature, "Nassau Coliseum Plan Faces Hurdles" [$5 please]. It's a long feature, but here are two salient quotes:

Islanders owner Charles Wang said he wants voters to have full disclosure about the details. "We'll do everything we can to make it work, get the information out, make people understand what the alternatives are, and we'll keep working at it," he said.

"Who is doing that kind of thing anymore?" said Matt Fabian, a managing director at Municipal Markets Advisors. "This is the kind of transaction that has gotten numerous cities into difficulty across the country."

Any time "Glendale" comes up, you have to get the shakes. Of course, in contrast to the areener deal in Glendale, the Islanders have an existing fanbase at the existing site, with an established population wrapped all around the "hub" of Nassau County.

Glendale, in contrast, was a real estate developer's bet on where the Phoenix area population was heading, with a still-young NHL team as his crutch to get the deal done. At minimum, the Coliseum proposal does not take an existing fanbase and ask it to move a rush-hour jam away to attend games.

But what of the common villain we haven't mentioned in this post yet? Why, LIBN names Kate Murray Newsmaker of the Week:

While the plan is a long ways away from being approved, it represents a victory for Murray, and proves just how much clout she holds not only in Hempstead, but throughout Nassau.

When politics turns things upside down, it's always going to give one pause. To that end, Nick of Let There Be Light(house) relaunches his blog with thorough, nuanced thoughts on the pros and cons of the new proposal, which is laid upon the curious political ashes of the dead Lighthouse Project proposal:

The political hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle was sad, though not unexpected.  Democrats who faded into the woodwork once Tom Suozzi was defeated suddenly came out in force to blast this new plan because, in the Lighthouse Project, a compelling and viable private proposal was on the table.  Republicans who blasted the original Lighthouse plan as "a landgrab," "a sweetheart deal," and "corporate welfare," now suddenly spun on a dime and proposed to pay for the building themselves - something that in my estimation actually IS corporate welfare!

Yeah, it feels like up is down in all this, given what was on the table before and what's on the table now, and who supported what was available before and who supports what's available now. Since everyone's after their own interests, this carpetbagging Isles fan will just go after mine: Vote Yes!

More sincerely -- and this was linked yesterday, too -- nhl.com's Brian Compton delivers a pretty cool plea to support the Coliseum referendum.

 

Actual Hockey Links

Oh, you're here for the hockey? We'll get back to that later this morning. I actually think the 2011 Draft and the number of RFAs the Isles have provide PR opportunities to build buzz for the team and the areener referendum. Think about it: With each Grabner and Okposo signed is another chance to say: "See, we're investing in the team with guys who are investing their lives in Long Island. Join us, won't you?"

Anyway, some links:

Come back later for more hockey-ish topics. I promise!

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