The Nassau County Legislature unanimously approved a $229 million bid by Forest City Ratner to restore and update the Nassau Coliseum on Monday. Naussau County voters turned down a plan to borrow $400 million to build a new arena two years ago and this deal is intended to save taxpayers the expense of the renovation, but critics wonder if the Coliseum can be successful without the New York Islanders, as the team will move to the Barclays Center after the 2014-15 hockey season.
UMBC economics professor Dennis Coates tells The New York Times that he doubts the arena can generate the revenue it needs without the draw of a big sports team. He suggests the arena could be forced to rely on concerts for revenue, competing against Barclays, Madison Square Garden and the Izod Center.
“The bottom line is,” Coates says, “are they going to have to back out of the deal at some point and come back to the county and say we need more money, and the county will be on the hook.”
In Newsday coverage of the deal Coates notes, “There does not seem to be any corporate welfare in this plan. And that makes me wonder — where is the corporate welfare? At what point are they going to say: ‘We need a handout to pull off what we promised but never in a million years could have delivered’?”