Long Island business and labor leaders gathered at the Nassau Coliseum Monday to voice support for the County’s plan to build a new arena and minor league baseball stadium adjacent to the current Coliseum.
There will be a rally Tuesday morning at 8:30 a.m. outside the Nassau County Legislature. All fans and residents who support the construction of a new Coliseum are encouraged to make their voices heard. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend.
Brian Rosenberg, the President of the Long Island Restaurant Association, was the host of Monday’s rally and delivered the overall theme of the morning: that a new Coliseum means more local jobs, help for local businesses, preserves cultural events on Long Island and prevents the loss of the only major league sports team in the area.
“I count on the Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum to be here forever,” said Rosenberg, who owns the Sugar Dining Den and Social Club. “It is hard enough today to survive as a local business. To take something like this away from Long Island would be a travesty. We don’t have to be the stepsister to Manhattan. We have a great team here and we should have a great building that fits it.”
“The big picture here is that without a new Coliseum, there will be no New York Islanders and there will be no recreation destination in the hub of Long Island,” explained Bruce Avery of Hofstra University radio, the flagship station of the Islanders. “Long Islanders will now have to travel to Manhattan, New Jersey or now even Brooklyn to see Springsteen or Lady Gaga or to go to the circus and with that goes the revenues that could have been pouring into a new Coliseum.”
Veteran radio man Ed Ingles, a Nassau County resident for more than 60 years, added, “Long Island cannot become the largest area in the country without a major sports team…I don’t want to come back here in 10 years and see grass growing in the concrete at the parking lot.”
Labor leaders were also prominent at the rally and voiced the difference that building a new Coliseum would make for workers. Dick O’Kane of the Iron Workers Union Local 580 said, “I represent hundreds of families who live in this area. They all have wives, sons and daughters. They can all use jobs and I know Nassau County can use the revenue. New York City saw it fit to rebuild Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium and put up a tennis court in Flushing and they’re doing pretty good as a result…We can’t afford not to do this. We need to support everybody’s efforts to get this job done.”
Labor leaders and business leaders made it clear that if this referendum does not pass, the Islanders will most likely leave Nassau County. Owner Charles Wang has indicated the team will not play another game at the present building once the lease expires after the 2014-15 season.
The rally outside of the County Legislature is intended to send a message to local politicians that the public is supportive of the new Coliseum and the opportunities it would mean for local businesses, workers and the public at large.
Islanders captain Doug Weight will be holding a press conference Thursday at 11 a.m. and is expected to announce his retirement. It has long been rumored that Weight will have some position in the organization in the future although it is not clear if any announcement will be made on Thursday regarding that possibility.