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Forest City Ratner Selected To Renovate Nassau Coliseum

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — An affiliate of Forest City Ratner has been selected to oversee a $229 million renovation of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano made the announcement at a press conference Thursday.

Nassau Events Center, LLC was picked over the Madison Square Garden Co.

The selection is expected to accelerate the long-stalled process to renovate the aging arena. Mangano said developer Bruce Ratner's group would transform the arena and its plaza "into an attractive, first-class destination for family fun, sports and entertainment."

Forest City Ratner Selected To Renovate Nassau Coliseum

Mangano said the plan would give the cash-strapped county a boost and would serve as a benefit to taxpayers, CBS 2's Jennifer McLogan reported.

"This plan gives us a clear road to success and I would hope that everybody gets on board," Mangano said.

"Today, I announce the proposer who provided the best opportunity for Nassau County residents; one that will create jobs and opportunities, one that generates the greatest revenue for the county and completely relieves the county of costly capital expenditures," Mangano said in a statement.

Mangano said Forest City Enterprises will pay the county a minimum of a $195 million over the 34 years of the lease. MSG's offer was less profitable.

"This is a public-private partnership where we share in the revenue and not the expense," said Mangano.

Forest City Ratner Selected To Renovate Nassau Coliseum

"By having The Madison Square Garden Company compete with us on this development demonstrates the significance of this project and both of our companies' commitment to Long Island," Ratner said. "We are ready to get to work to deliver a world-class coliseum and a thriving sports, entertainment and retail center that Long Island deserves."

Mangano said the county would receive 8 percent of gross revenues and 12.75 percent of parking fees with escalating minimum guaranteed payments over the initial 34-year lease term.

The Coliseum will be 100-percent privately financed at no expense to the taxpayer.

"We're planning to redo the whole thing. It needs a redo. It's 41 years old. Doesn't look good, not good when you're in it. You really need to pick a team that's going to completely redo it," Ratner told WLNY-TV in May. "It's got to look beautiful, iconic. Because there are 3 million people that live on the Island, and they've gotta have a place – whether it's entertainment, whether its sports – they've gotta have a great place."

It's still not clear who the primary tenant of the refurbished arena would be.

The New York Islanders have played hockey in the coliseum since it opened in 1972. They've announced plans to move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015.

But Ratner said Thursday that the Isles would be part-time tenants under his vision.

"It does include the Islanders playing a number of home games right here in the Coliseum," Ratner said.

Ratner has pledged to build an arena with 13,000 seats surrounded by a complex that will include an ice skating rink, a bowling alley or a movie theater.

The Nassau County Legislature is the next step in the approval process. Legislators have said that they will need more details on the project's economic impact before they vote on it.

"I'm talking about the devil being in the details, and the devil has yet to appear in this process," said Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink.

"While we are disappointed with the county's decision, we are not at all surprised given the history of this project, and will be watching closely as this process moves to the county legislature," MSG said in a statement. "We remain deeply supportive of the efforts to create a rich and vibrant destination for all Long Island residents, and sincerely hope that, regardless of today's decision, Long Island ultimately gets the world-class destination it deserves."

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