Kidd, Calipari help trumpet revived NY arena

A news conference to trumpet the selection of a developer to

renovate a suburban New York sports arena morphed into a pep rally

Friday, as sports luminaries including Jason Kidd and John Calipari

joined elected officials and business leaders at the Nassau

Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Kidd, the Brooklyn Nets coach, University of Kentucky basketball

coach Calipari were trotted out alongside New York Islanders star

Matt Martin and boxing champion Bernard Hopkins as representatives

of some of the sporting events that could be staged at a renovated

coliseum.

”You’ve got some excitement in your future,” Calipari said,

predicting the facility could someday host contests between

regional and national basketball powerhouses. ”You’re going to

have teams from around the country flocking to this building.”

On Thursday, officials in this New York City suburb announced

that a business group responsible for the construction of the

recently opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn would oversee a $229

million renovation of the 41-year-old Long Island arena. The plan

still needs the approval of the county legislature, but observers

say the GOP majority in the legislature would likely go along with

Republican County Executive Edward Mangano’s recommendation.

Bruce Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner

Companies, which built the Barclays Center, said he expects

renovations to begin in 2015 and be completed after about 18

months. In addition to the sports arena, Ratner envisions a bowling

alley, movie theaters, restaurants and other amenities will be

built on the 77-acre property, one of the largest parcels of open

space remaining in the densely crowded suburb.

Discussions on renovating the coliseum, which opened in 1972,

have been going on for a decade or longer.

After voters rejected a 2011 referendum to borrow $400 million

to renovate the coliseum, the Islanders announced they would move

to the new arena in Brooklyn following the 2015 season. Under the

agreement announced Thursday, the Islanders will return to Nassau

County to play six games a season in the renovated building.

Ratner also announced the Brooklyn Nets, who called the Nassau

Coliseum home when they played in the American Basketball

Association in the 1970s, would hold an open practice and play one

exhibition game a year in the Long Island facility.

”This is a tremendous responsibility and we are grateful for

the county’s confidence and trust,” said Brett Yormark, Barclays

Center CEO.