The Nassau County Legislature approved a resolution for Las Vegas Sands to construct a $4 billion entertainment center, headlined by a casino, at the site of the Nassau Coliseum Monday.
The 99-year lease agreement passed 17-1, with Democratic Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton the only opposing vote. Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) recused himself from the vote because of a conflict of interest with a relative’s employment related to the proposal.
Las Vegas Sands Chairman and CEO Robert Goldstein praised the work of Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and the Republican-controlled Legislature for their work in helping to arrange an entertainment destination in Nassau County.
“The approval granted today by the Nassau County Legislature is an important step in our company’s efforts to secure a New York gaming license and ultimately develop a world-class hospitality, entertainment and gaming destination,” Goldstein said in a statement. “We thank County Executive Blakeman for his vision, leadership, dedication, and commitment to Nassau County residents and taxpayers. We appreciate and are greatly honored by the near-unanimous support that the lease transfer received today from the Nassau County Legislature.”
The lease agreement, announced by Blakeman in late April, had already received approval from the Legislature’s Rules Committee earlier this month. Sands Vice President Ron Reese told Blank Slate Media in January that the $4 billion resort includes a casino, hotel, live entertainment venue, community centers, restaurants and more.
It will be constructed at the site of the Coliseum and the surrounding 72 acres known as the Nassau Hub. The fate of the Coliseum has yet to be decided by the Sands team, which has full control over its fate, according to Blakeman.
Reese also said the hotel would have at least 800 rooms and the live performance venue would have a 5,000-7,500 seat capacity. Blakeman said the agreement includes a “workforce housing” component regardless of whether or not Sands obtains a gaming license, though there would not be a housing project or development.
When the casino opens, Blakeman said, Nassau is guaranteed $25 million in revenue with escalation costs. That figure increases to $50 million a year with escalation costs once the operation has been running for three years.
Blakeman said the result of the Legislature’s vote on the casino shows that the agreement between Nassau and Las Vegas Sands is one that will benefit the community.
“The overwhelming bipartisan approval of lease terms with the Sands by the county Legislature affirms that Nassau County has made the right decision,” Blakeman said in a statement. “This is the first hurdle overcome to provide a world-class entertainment center with a luxury spa and hotel, creating thousands of jobs and economic prosperity for Nassau County. I am very pleased with the vote.”.
The county, Blakeman said, will receive $54 million from Sands, whether or not the project is constructed or not. Lease amendments made on Monday night include an additional $10 million for Uniondale and East Meadow and an extra $5 million from the Town of Hempstead.
The next steps for Sands include obtaining a gaming license from the state’s licensing board, receiving zoning approvals from the Town of Hempstead, backing from community groups and environmental impact studies.
The Sands proposal has caught the ire of some residents, including the non-partisan “Say No to the Casino Civic Association.” The group, in a statement, expressed disappointment in the Legislature’s vote on the lease agreement but said the fight to prevent a casino from coming to Nassau County is not over.
“Tonight’s vote is only the first step in the casino siting process. It is not a fait accompli,” according to the statement. “As the process moves forward, we are confident that community opposition from our group and others will be successful in preventing the Las Vegas Sands from building a casino at the heart of our county.”
The group held a rally outside the legislative building Sunday to urge legislators to vote against the proposal.
Goldstein said the Sands team will look forward to working with all community stakeholders to develop a project beneficial to the community.
“We have held over 300 community meetings and are proud of the widespread coalition we have built with our new neighbors across Long Island,” Goldstein said. “We are grateful for the trust they have placed in us and look forward to continuing to collaborate with the community.”