Las Vegas Sands proposes multibillion dollar project on Nassau Coliseum site

Newsday
 
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Las Vegas Sands, the casino and resort company, has submitted a bid to build a privately-funded, multibillion dollar tourism destination on the site of the Nassau Coliseum, after striking a deal to become the new tenants on the county-owned property, officials confirmed to Newsday. 

Officials with knowledge of the proposal, which would include a gambling casino if the state awards a license, say the company is willing to spend an estimated $4 billion on the project.

The plan would include outdoor community spaces, four and five-star hotel rooms and "a world-class live performance venue honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum," Sands officials said. 

The project would go forward even if the state does not approve a casino, Sands officials said.

Company officials did not address how the arena, opened in 1972, would fit into the project.

“Our announcement today is only the first part of this journey. Our ability to put forward a compelling and competitive proposal will only succeed if we engage with the Long Island community and, in collaboration, develop a proposal that reflects the input of all those involved," Robert G. Goldstein, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer said in a statement. 

Sands officials said the company has secured agreements and, pending approval by the Nassau County Legislature, expects to take over the lease and operate the Coliseum and the surrounding 72-acres in Uniondale, the largest tract of undeveloped land in the county, Sands officials said.

Any changes to the Coliseum lease would need approval by the 19-member legislature, where Republicans hold a 12-7 majority.

Asked about the Sands proposal, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told Newsday in a statement: “The Sands Corporation has indicated that they will be making a proposal to site an entertainment center and luxury hotel with a gambling casino that will occupy less than 10% of the total project."

Blakeman said, "as part of the proposal I understand there will be significant revenue to the county, the town and community organizations."

Blakeman, a Republican, said he would, "keep an open mind to their proposal and if they get community support for the project, I would be willing to sit down and negotiate concrete terms, but at this time it would be premature until the community weighs in on this proposal.”

Sands officials declined to discuss details of the lease transfer agreements and the funding structure of their plan.

Terms of the new lease were not immediately available from Nassau County.

The Sands development would feature celebrity-chef restaurants, "experiential events and venues" and meeting and convention space, including ballrooms.

Other amenities would include "high-quality casino gaming" — planned to take up less than 10 percent of the project’s total square footage — a day spa, swimming pool and health club, Sands officials said. 

The Sands announcement comes a week after New York State opened the application process for casino operators seeking to build full-scale, Vegas-style gambling facilities in the downstate region.

The state's Gaming Facility Location Board is expected later this year to award licenses for facilities that offer traditional card games such as poker and blackjack, along with slot machines and other electronic gaming.

The board in its request for applications said the cost of obtaining a commercial gaming license would be $500 million. The application fee is $1 million.

The state will award three licenses for gambling in and around New York City.

Related Companies and Wynn Resorts, a New York City-based commercial real estate developer, has announced a partnership to pursue a gaming license for a project at Hudson Yards in Manhattan, next to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Developer SL Green Realty is working with casino operator Caesars Entertainment on a bid to bring a casino to Times Square, the companies announced in October. 

According to news reports, hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen also is interested in a gaming license.

Cohen recently hosted a “visioning session” at Citi Field for people living and working in Queens, part of an effort to get community input on plan to build on 50 undeveloped acres near the ballpark.

State officials have not announced an application deadline but those submitting bids must answer the first round of questions by Feb. 3. 

Sands officials said their project would provide thousands of union jobs in construction and operations.

Former New York Gov. David A. Paterson, a senior vice president at Sands and part of the team pitching the plan to the state, said the company is committed to bringing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.

He said the ripple effect of a large-scale proposal would spur other economic activity in the area. 

“Our goal will be to ensure that our supply chain is fulfilled from small businesses, minority-owned, women-owned as well as veteran entrepreneurs based locally so that our surrounding communities are central and fully participating in the success of this project,” said Paterson.

Paterson, a Democrat, served as governor from March 2008 through 2010.

Sands selected the Nassau Hub area in Uniondale after considering about two dozen other properties in the downstate region, company officials said. 

"We believe that this site gives the best opportunity to do something transformative," said Ron Reese, Sands' senior vice president for global communications and corporate affairs.

Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty, who was named "master developer" of the Nassau Hub in 2018, told Newsday he supported the Sands' proposal and is working with the company.

Rechler said if the project goes forward his role won't change and RXR will "stay on and share the research we've done and the hundreds of hours of community feedback." 

"This could be Long Island's 'Amazon' moment," Rechler said, referring to the company's unsuccessful bid to build its headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

"These opportunities don't happen too often so you don't want to blow it," Rechler said. 

As master developer, RXR holds an agreement with the county and the right to partner with the holder of the Coliseum lease. 

Goldstein said in his statement: “Our company’s track record of driving significant economic benefits to the communities in which we operate and the meaningful relationships and partnerships we have created in each of those communities gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community. Based on that experience, we strongly believe Long Island can be home to one of the region’s great entertainment and hospitality developments.”

Las Vegas Sands, the casino and resort company, has submitted a bid to build a privately-funded, multibillion dollar tourism destination on the site of the Nassau Coliseum, after striking a deal to become the new tenants on the county-owned property, officials confirmed to Newsday. 

Officials with knowledge of the proposal, which would include a gambling casino if the state awards a license, say the company is willing to spend an estimated $4 billion on the project.

The plan would include outdoor community spaces, four and five-star hotel rooms and "a world-class live performance venue honoring the long legacy of live music at the Nassau Coliseum," Sands officials said. 

The project would go forward even if the state does not approve a casino, Sands officials said.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • Las Vegas Sands has submitted a proposal for the Nassau Coliseum site to build high-end hotel space, "a world-class live performance venue" and a gambling casino, if the company can secure state approval.
  • Sands, a casino and resort company, is willing to spend an estimated $4 billion on the project, company officials said.
  • The project would go forward even if the state does not approve a casino.

Company officials did not address how the arena, opened in 1972, would fit into the project.

“Our announcement today is only the first part of this journey. Our ability to put forward a compelling and competitive proposal will only succeed if we engage with the Long Island community and, in collaboration, develop a proposal that reflects the input of all those involved," Robert G. Goldstein, the company’s chairman and chief executive officer said in a statement. 

Proposed takeover of Coliseum lease

Sands officials said the company has secured agreements and, pending approval by the Nassau County Legislature, expects to take over the lease and operate the Coliseum and the surrounding 72-acres in Uniondale, the largest tract of undeveloped land in the county, Sands officials said.

Any changes to the Coliseum lease would need approval by the 19-member legislature, where Republicans hold a 12-7 majority.

Asked about the Sands proposal, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman told Newsday in a statement: “The Sands Corporation has indicated that they will be making a proposal to site an entertainment center and luxury hotel with a gambling casino that will occupy less than 10% of the total project."

Blakeman said, "as part of the proposal I understand there will be significant revenue to the county, the town and community organizations."

Blakeman, a Republican, said he would, "keep an open mind to their proposal and if they get community support for the project, I would be willing to sit down and negotiate concrete terms, but at this time it would be premature until the community weighs in on this proposal.”

Sands officials declined to discuss details of the lease transfer agreements and the funding structure of their plan.

Terms of the new lease were not immediately available from Nassau County.

Celebrity-chef restaurants and convention space

The Sands development would feature celebrity-chef restaurants, "experiential events and venues" and meeting and convention space, including ballrooms.

Other amenities would include "high-quality casino gaming" — planned to take up less than 10 percent of the project’s total square footage — a day spa, swimming pool and health club, Sands officials said. 

The Sands announcement comes a week after New York State opened the application process for casino operators seeking to build full-scale, Vegas-style gambling facilities in the downstate region.

The state's Gaming Facility Location Board is expected later this year to award licenses for facilities that offer traditional card games such as poker and blackjack, along with slot machines and other electronic gaming.

The board in its request for applications said the cost of obtaining a commercial gaming license would be $500 million. The application fee is $1 million.

The state will award three licenses for gambling in and around New York City.

Related Companies and Wynn Resorts, a New York City-based commercial real estate developer, has announced a partnership to pursue a gaming license for a project at Hudson Yards in Manhattan, next to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

Developer SL Green Realty is working with casino operator Caesars Entertainment on a bid to bring a casino to Times Square, the companies announced in October. 

According to news reports, hedge fund billionaire and New York Mets owner Steve Cohen also is interested in a gaming license.

Cohen recently hosted a “visioning session” at Citi Field for people living and working in Queens, part of an effort to get community input on plan to build on 50 undeveloped acres near the ballpark.

State officials have not announced an application deadline but those submitting bids must answer the first round of questions by Feb. 3. 

Job-creation touted

Sands officials said their project would provide thousands of union jobs in construction and operations.

Former New York Gov. David A. Paterson, a senior vice president at Sands and part of the team pitching the plan to the state, said the company is committed to bringing opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses.

He said the ripple effect of a large-scale proposal would spur other economic activity in the area. 

“Our goal will be to ensure that our supply chain is fulfilled from small businesses, minority-owned, women-owned as well as veteran entrepreneurs based locally so that our surrounding communities are central and fully participating in the success of this project,” said Paterson.

Paterson, a Democrat, served as governor from March 2008 through 2010.

Sands selected the Nassau Hub area in Uniondale after considering about two dozen other properties in the downstate region, company officials said. 

"We believe that this site gives the best opportunity to do something transformative," said Ron Reese, Sands' senior vice president for global communications and corporate affairs.

Scott Rechler, CEO of RXR Realty, who was named "master developer" of the Nassau Hub in 2018, told Newsday he supported the Sands' proposal and is working with the company.

Rechler said if the project goes forward his role won't change and RXR will "stay on and share the research we've done and the hundreds of hours of community feedback." 

Long Island's "Amazon" moment?

"This could be Long Island's 'Amazon' moment," Rechler said, referring to the company's unsuccessful bid to build its headquarters in Long Island City, Queens.

"These opportunities don't happen too often so you don't want to blow it," Rechler said. 

As master developer, RXR holds an agreement with the county and the right to partner with the holder of the Coliseum lease. 

Goldstein said in his statement: “Our company’s track record of driving significant economic benefits to the communities in which we operate and the meaningful relationships and partnerships we have created in each of those communities gives us a unique perspective on what it takes to develop transformative tourism destinations that positively impact the local community. Based on that experience, we strongly believe Long Island can be home to one of the region’s great entertainment and hospitality developments.”

Candice Ferrette covers Nassau County government and politics on Long Island. She has been a reporter at Newsday since 2011.

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