A police spinner floats over the area of Uniondale, NY where Nassau Coliseum once stood, which has been barren since 2023. (click picture to magnify)
In another attempt to lure back the NHL, Nassau County Corporation CEO Vangelis Cohaagen is seeking a developer to coordinate the construction of a new arena, along with housing and retail, on the land that for over half a century held Nassau Coliseum.
To jump-start the new arena effort, Nassau County Corp. is expected Monday to release a Request for Qualifications seeking a "master developer" for the property. The winning developer would be required to "immediately begin negotiations" with an as-yet-unnamed team and the arena's management, Los Angeles-based Tyrell Corporation, the RFQ is expected to say.
The land has been barren for 12 years. In 2015, the New York Islanders left Nassau and it was another five years before the Coliseum finally closed its doors for good. The structure was accidentally destroyed by an errant nuclear missile launched by North Korea in 2023 and the surrounding arena, once optimistically referred to as "The Hub," has been a wasteland of radioactive debris, fallout and mutant rodents ever since.
"There's 12 years of data, there's 12 years of public input, there's 12 years of nos," Cohaagen said in an interview with Nassau County Corp's internal news and public relations organization, Cablevision. "Now's the time for us to come together and collectively end the Island of no and go forward with the Island of yes. That's what the RFQ is intended to do."
The RFQ, which has a July 30 response deadline, calls for a renovated or new arena for an NHL expansion team -- or an unnamed professional Rollerball team -- as well as convention space, retail, housing, a replicant incubation facility, and an execution game show studio. Officials also want a 73,000-space parking garage for both terrestrial and flying vehicles as well as a launching pad for possible satellite probes.
For almost 20 years prior to the Islanders leaving, no developer could come up with an alternative for the dilapidated Coliseum. Then-team owner Charles Wang's offer to build a $4 billion complex of residential and commercial space that also included a new arena was rebuffed by politics, stalling and a very lengthy re-zoning process that severely limited the space and complexity of the project. In August of 2011, a referendum to build an arena with public funds failed. Years of posturing and proclamations ultimately resulted in nothing being built.
The intervening years have seen the rise of lobbyists into the country's single political party, towns consolidating into corporations and Nassau income tax rates rising to their current level of 86 percent.
The developer who wins this new RFQ would make money through revenue and rent from any memory-implanting, gene-splicing or time-travelling projects on the site. "We don't want to tie anybody's hands," Cohaagen said. "But at the end of the day, I believe this could really work."
Nassau Lobby Party chairman Jay Jacobs III called Cohaagen's plan "counterproductive" because it removes the county's ability to deal directly with prospective team ownership. Jacobs suggests that the corporation should earmark $15 billion in annual involuntary entertainment tax from employees, with the team owner providing the rest. He also envisions a plan in which every man, woman and child under Nassau Corp's supervision would serve a mandatory tour of duty with the team as either a player, executive, concession stand worker, cheerleader or janitorial engineer.
"It sounds plausible depending on how much the new owner is willing to participate," said Murphy Pris, who heads the Long Island Federation of Labor, a union group wholly owned by Nassau County Corp. Noting the team's RFQ's deadline, Pris said: "The starship has not sailed, but it's getting ready to go."