July 31, 2011
Public vote (!) tomorrow to replace Nassau Coliseum; demise would boost Barclays Center; Daily News, Post, slam (!) public arena funding; economist warns of "corporate welfare to pro sports team owners"
Atlantic Yards Report
There's a referendum Monday in tax-strapped Nassau County on a $400 million plan to replace the Nassau Coliseum (and build a minor league ballpark), and you can bet that Barclays Center backers are hoping the whole thing blows up, thus sending events--no, not the main tenant, the hockey Islanders, but concerts and shows--to that new arena rising near the Long Island Rail Road terminal in Brooklyn.
There's reason for question the plan, as I'll describe below, but it's notable how the New York Daily News and New York Post editorial pages, steady backers of Atlantic Yards, have discovered their inner Daniel Goldstein, fervently denouncing the "scheme."
(It's also notable that the public gets a voice decide--though it should be pointed out that a Monday in August is not exactly designed for mass turnout. Neither the public nor local elected officials voted on support for Atlantic Yards. Note that the Nassau County Legislature and then the Nassau Interim Finance Authority would then decide.)
Were the editorial pages just bamboozled by "Jobs, Housing, and Hoops"? Is this "good government" week? Or did someone (Rupert, Mort?) make the call?
Meanwhile, "thousands of union workers, Nassau County officials, hockey fans and Islanders players" held a rally this week, the business community is opposed, the rival teams Devils and Rangers registered their support, and Governor Andrew Cuomo stayed studiously neutral (in contrast with his office's unyielding support for Atlantic Yards, a state project).
It's not at all the same funding mechanism as that for the two baseball stadiums in New York City and the Atlantic Yards arena--the questionable but legal use of tax-exempt bonds as PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes), a magic trick that requires tax-exempt land and diverted phantom taxes.
Nor is the $400 million sought from voters to be used for land purchase and infrastructure, as the nearly $300 million in direct funding (plus much, much more in indirect support) for Atlantic Yards.
Rather, Nassau Coliseum backers want voters to pay for construction--but, unlike with Atlantic Yards and the two stadiums, at least the government would get a percentage of rent.
Posted by steve at July 31, 2011 8:15 PM