Venue News: With Latest Arena Proposal Defeated, Islanders May Be Down for the Count

Nassau County voters, who pay among the highest local taxes in the nation, handily defeated a proposal on Monday to spend $400 million to overhaul the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the outdated home of the New York Islanders. The vote was about 57% to 43% against borrowing the money through a general obligation bond to pay for the plan, which also called for construction of a minor-league baseball park and convention space. The results marked an enormous defeat for Charles E. Wang, the owner of the Islanders, who had sought a new or refurbished arena for nearly a decade, and may now be forced to move or sell the team…

…The Phoenix Suns are splitting eight suites into 16 theater boxes at US Airways Center, carving traditional skyboxes into smaller, more affordable premium seating. The Suns will become the fourth NBA team to offer theater boxes to fans, joining the Chicago Bulls (United Center – 32 theater boxes), Milwaukee Bucks (Bradley Center – 10 theater boxes), and Washington Wizards (Verizon Center – 8 theater boxes). The Suns pursued the project after seeing the success of theater boxes at United Center and Bradley Center.  Theater boxes contain four to eight seats inside the bowl with a bar, a dining table, and lounge space in the back, and will cost a little less than half the price of a regular suite at US Airways Center. They will be located on the lower of two suite levels, directly opposite the stage, and should be ready for the beginning of the season…

…Madison Square Garden opened its doors to members of the media last week, showcasing the progress of an $850 million upgrade that includes gutting the arena without altering the building’s exterior. The three-year “transformation” will update the Garden’s entrance, seating, locker rooms, lighting, sound, and video. In the project’s first phase, seats on the lower level are being replaced and concourses are being widened.  Future phases include more bathrooms, luxury suites, food options, dressing rooms, and production offices. Construction crews are working around the clock to complete the first phase of renovation before the start of the Knicks and Rangers seasons this fall. Madison Square Garden was completed in 1968 and has not had a major upgrade since 1991; the renovations are scheduled to be completed in 2013…

…The new football stadium rising on the University of Manitoba campus could be the cheapest stadium ever built in North America, judging on a construction cost per seat basis. Currently, that distinction belongs to the Seattle Seahawks Qwest Field at $6,800 per seat. The new home of the University of Manitoba Bisons and the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers is projected to cost $5,800 per seat. However, the project’s proponents ensure that there will be nothing cheap about the as-yet-unnamed stadium. The 33,422-seat stadium will be expandable to 40,000 for Grey Cup or festival events, and feature two 57-meter arched trusses. Although the stadium is planned with an open-air concept, a fabricated metal roofing system on both sides of the stadium will keep fans partly protected from inclement weather. Two high-definition 118-by-35-foot video screens will be installed at each end of the stadium, and another 200 HD TVs will be placed on concourse level.