Out on Long Island, it is shaping up as the heavyweight bout of the decade—the Knockout in Nassau County. It's a winner-take-all contest in which the prize, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the coming decades, is the right to rebuild and run the badly faded Nassau Coliseum.
In one corner stands a team captained by Madison Square Garden Co., a squad led by hometown heroes James Dolan and Scott Rechler, aided by MSG Chief Executive Hank Ratner. The Dolans control the island's biggest cable television network and newspaper, while Rechler is the island's largest office landlord. In the other corner is the Barclays Center team. Call them the Brooklyn Globetrotters, coached by developer Bruce Ratner with a bench that includes Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov and Jay Z.
Round 1 in the contest kicked off in May, with the announcement of four bidders, which was narrowed to just two the following month. Final proposals for the 63-acre property in Uniondale were submitted on Aug. 9. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano is expected to announce a victor any day.
Both sides are aggressively swinging for the prize, which includes a share of ticket sales to events, dinner bills, bar tabs and receipts from the shops that both bidders plan to erect around the arena. The winner will control the property for 20 to 30 years.
Local officials say they are delighted at how the bout has shaped up—especially after two previous taxpayer-financed attempts to revamp the Coliseum went nowhere. Those setbacks prompted the Islanders hockey team to skate off to the Barclays Center, which will be its home as early as the 2014-2015 season.
"We're thrilled we have two industry giants prepared to reinvent the Coliseum," said Mr. Mangano.
For MSG, the contest is an opportunity to add another gem to the crown of its ever-expanding entertainment-venue business, which includes managing Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theater and the LA Forum. For Barclays, coming off a blockbuster inaugural year at its downtown Brooklyn arena, winning the Coliseum contract could mark the first step toward the launch of a business that not only competes with the Garden in New York City but around the world.