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Newsday (New York)
The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency voted to approve tax breaks for the New York Islanders Wednesday night on a nearly $10 million planned renovation at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum.
BSE Global, formerly Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Coliseum and Brooklyn's Barclays Center, submitted an initial IDA application in May on the Islanders' behalf. The team, according to an updated application submitted in July, was seeking a $400,000 to $450,000 sales tax break on the purchase of new equipment, furniture and fixtures for the project.
Completion of the $9.95 million interior upgrades would allow the Islanders to temporarily return to the Uniondale arena for three years while a new arena at Belmont Park is developed.
The Islanders plan to split their schedule between the Coliseum and Barclays over the next three seasons, playing a minimum of 60 games at their former home arena over that period.
Peter Curry, an attorney representing BSE, said the improvements at the arena needed to be completed before the start of the Islanders regular season on Dec. 1. The team is expected to play a pre-season game at the Coliseum ahead of the improvements later this month, he said.
A state grant will provide $6 million toward the project. An Islanders spokesman said the team is paying the difference -- approximately $3.9 million.
In March the renovation was projected to cost $8.5 million, according to Empire State Development, which approved the state grant. The cost had gone up to $8.7 million, then $9.5 million and eventually $9.9 million, according to IDA documents and public statements.
At an IDA meeting in June, representatives for the Islanders said that part of the cost increases were due to higher than expected prices to upgrade the Coliseum's broadcast system.
Improvements to the facility are meant to bring the county-owned arena up to National Hockey League standards and include the installation of an NHL-compliant video-cable infrastructure, upgrades to the ice rink equipment, and a renovation of the locker room.
"We want to see the Islanders back, and if we can assist in a small way, why not," Richard Kessel, IDA chairman, said Wednesday. Kessel added that the break on sales taxes are "moderate enough that it won't have any major impact on the county taxpayer, and it doesn't include in anyway any property tax benefits."
The IDA board voted in June to give the project preliminary approval, with Wednesday's final approval pending a public hearing and economic impact study.
"With the support of the IDA, we continue to make improvements at the Coliseum and continue to pave the way for development at the HUB," County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement issued after the IDA's vote. -- With Jim Baumbach
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