Thought Leadership Series: “The NY Islanders, Nassau Coliseum, and Their Future Impact on Long Island’s Economy” with Ed Blumenfeld and Bobby Nystrom.June 3rd, 2014
On June 3, 2014, clients and friends of First Long Island Investors gathered at the Garden City Hotel to learn more about the economic and social impacts of the NY Islanders moving to Brooklyn and the Nassau Coliseum redevelopment project. Joining First Long Island’s Chairman and CEO, Robert D. Rosenthal, for the discussion was Ed Blumenfeld, the president of Blumenfeld Development Group and a partner in the Coliseum Redevelopment Project, and NY Islanders legend Bobby Nystrom.
Ed Blumenfeld shared with the group some of the plans for the Coliseum and surrounding areas:
- The Coliseum will receive a complete overhaul. The new structure will be a state-of-the-art facility leveraging the newest advances in technology and a redesigned concession area, similar to, but updated from, that of the new Barclay’s center in Brooklyn.
- Events held at the new facility will include concerts, family affairs (i.e. the circus), college basketball, college hockey, several Islanders games, and more.
- With no professional sports team dominating the schedule, the new coliseum will be able to schedule college sporting events with more flexibility than arenas like Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center; thus attracting top teams and match-ups.
- The footprint of the new coliseum will be smaller, yet in line with other new stadiums being built nationwide. Depending on the event, the venue will hold from 4,000 – 13,000 spectators. The decrease in size will provide sufficient parking without requiring parking structures to be built for this phase of the redevelopment.
- The area surrounding the coliseum is envisioned to be a day and night destination. Some of the businesses under discussion are indoor skydiving, a Dave and Busters and other restaurants, a health and fitness destination facility similar to Chelsea Piers, Island Basketball, and some retail, noting that Roosevelt Field will remain the retail hub in the area.
- There are plans for a sports field on the premises. This field would host high school soccer, lacrosse, and football championships, among other things, and a deal is being negotiated to broadcast these games.
- The current redevelopment work will not include all of the land. Down the road, some of the land will also be used for additional redevelopment by Hofstra University and possibly residential projects.
- The economic impact of the renovated coliseum, and the broader redevelopment, is very positive for Long Island. The sales tax impact will depend on who comes into the space. The current estimates indicate that the redevelopment will yield at least 1,500 – 2,000 new permanent jobs.
- The county administration has been nothing but supportive of the redevelopment efforts in the time since Ed Blumenfeld and Bruce Ratner won the project. This is a shift from past administrations and past Coliseum redevelopment proposals, but one that Ed is quite encouraged by.
- The coliseum redesign and general redevelopment will take approximately 18 months, and the project will start when the Islanders finish their 2014-2015 season. There is collective hope that work on the coliseum redesign can’t begin until July (as the Islanders advance in the playoffs), but the development team will be ready to start in April.
Some of the more speculative conversations centered on the following topics of interest:
- The name of the coliseum is still yet to be determined. There are naming rights, and a number of discussions are currently underway.
- Having a minor league hockey team and/or a D-League basketball team making the new arena their home, with no teams yet finalized.
- The new coliseum will be able to support a major league team, if the Islanders were ever to want to return or if another team wanted to come to Long Island.
Bobby Nystrom provided his personal perspective on the NY Islanders moving to Brooklyn:
- Because the Islanders are a part of Long Island’s fabric, Bobby and other former players are disappointed to see the team go.
- There are numerous ongoing efforts to revitalize various parts of Long Island, and being able to hold on to the team would have benefited some of those projects and Long Island overall.
- Bobby indicated that it will be interesting to watch how the Islanders v. Rangers rivalry, a historically intense rivalry, will take shape with the team in Brooklyn. He recalled a time when the Islanders v. Rangers game was held at the Coliseum, and there was barely an Islander jersey to be found in the stands. That evolved over time, and the concern with a move to Brooklyn is whether the Islander fans who live further out on Long Island will travel to Brooklyn in support of the team.
- Today’s NHL players are more transient due to trades and free agency compared to when he played. Back then, many team members established permanent residences on Long Island and set up businesses here after retiring from hockey.
- Given the age of the coliseum (it’s the second oldest arena in the NHL) and the lack of development in the current surrounding area, free agents have not wanted to come to the Islanders. Hopefully the move to Barclay’s will change that, but only time will tell.
- The information shared thus far with Bobby indicates that the team will still be called the NY Islanders.
- With respect to the future of youth hockey on Long Island without a major league team being here, Bobby felt it could take a hit, but that there are new rinks being built on Long Island and programs being designed to keep children engaged in the sport. The 1980 Islanders Stanley Cup win and the US Olympic team winning the gold medal gave youth hockey on Long Island a huge boost in that decade.
The session closed with Bobby autographing Islander hockey pucks for attendees, giving them yet another positive memory of the NY Islanders run on Long Island.
Ed Blumenfeld is President, Founder, and the creative force behind Blumenfeld Development Group (“BDG”). Under Mr. Blumenfeld’s direction, BDG has become an industry leading Development firm that specializes in converting underutilized real estate into vibrant, innovative, progressive space that meets the economic and social needs of the community. He is a founding member of the Association for a Better Long Island (ABLI) and was a founding member of the Schneider Children’s Hospital. He has been an ardent supporter of the hospital since its inception and further confirmed his commitment to its continued success by spearheading the expansion of the Hospital campus to include the Blumenfeld Center for Pediatric Medicine. Mr. Blumenfeld has also taken a leadership role in honoring the region’s veterans and active duty military personnel through his philanthropic support of the award winning American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport. Through his many undertakings, Ed Blumenfeld has literally and figuratively built a better Long Island. Mr. Blumenfeld attended Hofstra University, Uniondale, New York.
Bobby Nystrom is a retired professional ice hockey right winger. He played for the New York Islanders from 1972–86. He is best remembered as having scored the winning goal at the 7:11 mark of overtime to give the New York Islanders the 1980 Stanley Cup title. This signaled the first of four straight championships for the club. He was also among the last NHL players to not wear a helmet during a game. Nystrom has been known as one of the all-time clutch players in NHL Stanley Cup playoff history. He tallied 39 goals and 83 points in 157 playoff games; however he is most noted for his knack for sudden death overtime winners. Nystrom ended playoff overtime games four times in his career. Nystrom embraced the Long Island community like few others, contributing to various charities in the area and promoting the local businesses whenever possible. By virtue of these distinctions, and coupled with the most famous goal in team history, Nystrom was nicknamed “Mr. Islander.” The Islanders retired his No. 23 on April 1, 1995. In 2003, he was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.