President Elect Donald Trump, like him or not, had an effective campaign slogan: “Make America Great Again.”
Whoever wins the 2017 Nassau County executive election needs to focus on making “Long Island Great Again.”
Poor decisions made by recently indicted Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and the malfeasance of former Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray have allowed the New York Islanders, the soul of professional sports in our community, to slip away.
Bringing the Islanders back would be a big step toward making Long Island great again.
The proposal of building a new arena for the Islanders on the vacant Belmont land is foolhardy. There is no need for an additional indoor arena on Long Island with Nassau Coliseum just a 15-minute car ride away.
As it stands now, Nassau’s newly renovated Coliseum will have about 13,000 seats, roughly 4000 seats less than Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden.
When it comes to attracting top talent who prefer a larger venue, Nassau Coliseum already has a tough time competing.
The best way for the new Coliseum to thrive is to bring the Islanders back.
In order to entice the current Islander majority owners Jon Ledecky and Scott D. Malkin, to bring the Islanders home, the next Nassau County Executive needs to get creative.
Here are suggestions residents can support, that don’t use our hard earned tax dollars.
1. Offer seat licensing for the first 5,000 seats.
At an average of $5,000 each, this would raise $25 million, and should go to Ledecky and Malkin as an incentive.
If there is overwhelming demand more seat licenses can be sold. The New York Giants and Jets raised several hundred million dollars doing this.
Nassau County should create an online seat license exchange so the licenses could be transferred.
Charging 5 percent on the buy and sell side would be an additional source of revenue for the county.
2. When the naming rights, recently purchased by New York Community Bank, expire, allow the Islander ownership to participate in the next deal if they sign a long-term lease agreement.
Here is an interesting link to the prices paid for naming rights of stadiums and arenas across the county: https://www.espn.com/sportsbusiness/s/stadiumnames.html
3. Nassau and Suffolk County, both starved for revenue, should form an online ticket agency for all Long Island venues.
A $3 ticket surcharge, or convenience fee, for Islander games would raise roughly $1.5 million per year. The Islanders could split this with Nassau.
The newly renovated Nassau Coliseum will have a seating capacity for hockey of 13,000.
Though it will be the smallest arena in the NHL, it’s a perfect fit for the Islanders, as they have been averaging fewer than 12,800 for home games this season.
Therefore, when filled to capacity, the new arena will make for an intimate and exciting experience.
Simple supply and demand should make the Islanders a sought after ticket.
The aforementioned ideas will more than compensate ownership for the smaller arena.
For the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum to be a destination and a success, the return of the Islanders is a big part of the winning formula.