More information came (from behind a paywall) about the new sub-lease for the Nassau Coliseum. Hat tip to reader Scott for the links; I have been at family Christmas parties pretty much since the last post went live.
Quickly, here are some important points to remember, and then I will add a quick analysis of my own:
- SMG will continue to have day-to-day control of the Coliseum.
- The Islanders will gain operational control of the arena, handling all Coliseum bookings and receiving all the concessions, parking, and ticket revenue SMG used to receive.
- The agreement does not prevent the Islanders from leaving Nassau Coliseum, but they would be required to pay SMG the remainder of their rent, through 2015.
- The Islanders would still require County approval to leave Nassau Coliseum.
While removing a major hurdle to getting the Lighthouse Project done, the lease also, admittedly, removes a hurdle to the team leaving Nassau County as well (though there is a permanent injunction still in place forcing the Islanders to play home games at Nassau Coliseum through 2015 - there would likely be an issue with the County should that change). As Deputy County Executive (for now) Marilyn Gottlieb pointed out, control over Coliseum bookings is an important issue, since it would allow Mr. Wang and Mr. Rechler to more easily set a construction timetable should the project receive approval by the summertime.
In addition, this does not in any way, as I said, signal that the team is willing to give it a go with "just an arena," and I don't know why some people are still clinging to that idea. It will help stanch the financial bleeding, though it may not be enough to get the Islanders in the black. Overall, as I have said before, there is a profound difference between making money and making enough money to justify a $320 million investment.
This is positive news, and it should be treated as such, but it is also a reminder that the clock is ticking and that we need a positive resolution on this project before the main economic engine contained within it explores opportunities elsewhere.
I'd also like to wish a Merry Christmas to my friends and readers who celebrate it. I hope the holiday season is treating you well, and I look forward to participating in this journey with you, in whatever way I can, in 2010.