Madison Square Garden Company signed a lease extension with Comcast Spectacor just five weeks ago, reaching an agreement to keep its AHL affiliate at Hartford's XL Center for at least the next three seasons.
But it seems the executives at MSG may already be planning for life after the new lease expires. On Thursday, MSG president and CEO Hank Ratner represented the company in making a presentation before Nassau County's Business Advisory Council in a bid to take over Nassau Coliseum.
The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn and MSG is one of four bidders seeking control of the building on Long Island. But what made Ratner's presentation interesting was this pitch: MSG promised to bring at least one of its sport franchises -- the WNBA's Liberty, the NBA D-League's Erie Bayhawks or the AHL Whale -- to the Coliseum when renovations are complete.
Here's the story about the Thursday's bidding process from Newsday.
The Islanders are schedule to remain at the Coliseum through 2015. MSG officials say their plan for renovation of the arena and the surrounding area will take two years.
The company's lease at the XL Center runs through 2016, with two one-year extension options. The MSG could fulfill the three-year lease and even honor the two extensions, keeping the AHL affiliate in Hartford through 2018.
That would give the company plenty of time to complete the project on Long Island before moving the franchise.
Besides MSG, the bidders for the Coliseum are Bruce Ratner (who build the Barclays Center in Brooklyn), Long Island developer Bernard Shereck of New York Sports & Entertainment and another Long Island developer, Ed Blumenfeld. Bruce Ratner was accompanied by hip-hop artist and entertainment mogul Jay-Z for his presentation Thursday.
MSG vowed to spend $250 million in renovation, creating an entertainment complex around the arena. Company officials said their plan would generate $11 billion in economic activity over 30 years and create more than $300 million in sales/entertainment tax.
They also said the Rangers and Knicks would hold open practices at the arena and they promised to bring college basketball and other events to the arena. MSG may look at the Islanders move as an opportunity to attract fans on Long Island, where the team already had a older generation of fans from the pre-Islanders days.
Meanwhile, MSG officials have decided to abandon the Connecticut Whale brand and intend to rename Hartford's AHL team the Wolf Pack. The announcement is expected soon.
Global Spectrum, which is taking over management of the XL Center, will run the day-to-day operation of the team and the company is already reaching out to season ticket holders.
Global is a subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based company that owns the Flyers. The company would seem to be positioned to replace the Rangers' AHL affiliate if MSG is awarded Nassau Coliseum deal and signals its intention to move its affiliate from Hartford.
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