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Questions About Future Of New York Islanders Follow Belmont Park Arena Groundbreaking



park arena

Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the Belmont Park arena that will serve as home ice for the New York Islanders. Later this month, Islanders ownership will continue the celebration by welcoming season ticket-holders to an event on the same grounds. These celebrations are set to commemorate the future of the NHL franchise on Long Island and a larger development project that will reshape the community. But will the festivities actually end up being part of a going away party for one of the league’s most storied franchises?

This sports-led development project received final go-ahead from state government authorities at the end of the past summer. It features a 19,000-seat arena serving as centerpiece to a $1-billion-plus plan that will include a 250-room hotel and 350,000-square feet of retail space. In the first place, it brings the Islanders a step closer to completing what has so far been a two decade-long search for a new home of its own. It also brings with it all sorts of visions about what a development of such magnitude will do to and for the community, economically and socially.

New York Arena Partners, the developers behind the project, is one stakeholder that seems clear on what that could mean and look like. The partnership brings together sports-related owners and operators—the Islanders, Sterling Equities, and Oak View Group—with interests that have the capacity for creating change by reshaping the retail, residential, and entertainment contours of this area just east of New York City:

Islanders co-owner Scott Malkin is chairman of Value Retail, the U.S.-based parent company of luxury discount shopping “villages” located near European airport and hotel hubs in London, Milan, Munich, Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Antwerp, Cologne, Düsseldorf, and Frankfurt, and Suzhou and Shanghai in China. Co-owner John Ledecky is an investor in sports properties, including a prior stake in the NHL’s Washington Capitals;

Sterling Equities, the commercial and residential real estate firm led by the Wilpon and Katz families, controls both the MLB franchise New York Mets and Andbox esports outfits, along with associated media broadcasting through the Sportsnet New York regional sports network. Over the course of the past 20 years or so, the firm has been at the forefront of would-be redevelopment projects that would place the likes of a casino and a soccer stadium somewhere in proximity of the 13-mile stretch between the Mets’ home at CitiField and available space around Belmont Park race track;

Oak View Group is the venue investment and advisory vehicle spearheaded by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff. Leiweke was previously the president and CEO of two sports business powerhouses—Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and Anschutz Entertainment Group—while Azoff chaired a turning of fortunes for music and entertainment companies such as MCA Music Entertainment Group, Ticketmaster, and Live Nation, before partnering to manage live event venues held by the Jim Dolan-owned Madison Square Garden Company.
Given that level of background and reach, it may take little imagination to render images of a future around Belmont Park that go well beyond anything drawn-up by even the sharpest architects and city planners.
Those prospects, plus some relief from the twists and turns in the Islanders’ search for an arena, is lending lots of excitement to many fans, public officials, and residents. So, too, are the promises of the boosts that a world-class, state-of-the-art arena development would bring to the local economy, public transit network, and neighborhoods across the community.

Of course, as goes with projects of this sort, there are individuals, groups, and municipalities cautioning about pitfalls that could result in too many negative impacts. Some of them are so concerned that they have filed lawsuits and legal complaints to slow down and even shut down the project. Taken together, the claims are contending that state-run entities Empire State Development and the Franchise Oversight Board, New York Arena Partners, the Hempstead Town supervisor, the Nassau County executive, and the Water Authority of Western Nassau have variously engaged in flawed environmental impact studies, disregarded traffic and homeland security issues, potentially compromised human and equine safety, advanced dubious plans for a new $105 million Long Island Rail Road station and shuttle service to the Belmont venue, and essentially placed publicly-owned property at Belmont in the hands of private developers. The complaints are also nipping at the NHL for creating pressure to move the project along swiftly in the hope that the arena would be open and operational early in the coming decade.

There are, to be sure, many economic, political, and social angles and levers to this project. And they going off in any number of different directions. The only wrinkle that seems to have not yet cropped up is a tweet from President Donald Trump weighing-in on the trifecta of Governor Cuomo, major league professional sports, and a New York real estate deal.

What, then, is the right direction in this case?

The answer to that question starts with another, that is, “What do you want this place to be?”

Generating revenue and profits has to be of interest to anyone connected—directly or indirectly—to this project. In fact, it would be mismanagement and irresponsibility to regard any differently. But the real attention needs to be focused on whether this project is about improving economic opportunities as a means to improving quality of life or vice versa.

Stakeholders across the community envision strengthening the connection between people and where they work and live. If this project is primarily about improving economic opportunities, then we already know it indulges in feeding the model of sports-led development that worked through the end of the 20th century but which has since become obsolete. If it is primarily about improving quality of life, then we know it fits with the model of investment, innovation, and growth that is defining the present and future.

Which of those routes ends up being taken has implications for the long-term future of the Islanders on Long Island. One signal will be how remediation of the issues put forth in the lawsuits is managed. Another signal will be the extent to which realities align in a way that yields a particular status and function for the Islanders: Will a future at Belmont resemble something more along the lines of the franchise’s history at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island or its spell at Barclays Center in Brooklyn?

Putting shovels in the ground at Belmont now represents a few milestones for the Islanders, their partners, and the community. Whatever the project amounts to, in one way or another, will be groundbreaking. Whatever happens to the landscape will bring a new dimension to business and daily life in the area.

As dignitaries put shovels in the ground at Belmont, word came that the Islanders will be playing more games at Nassau Coliseum this season than at Barclays Center. Meanwhile, a few key decisions will determine whether those same shovels are preparing a safe harbor that keeps the Islanders on Long Island or a platform for waving goodbye to the franchise. We know the points to be on lookout for in this New York story.


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Oboe player dies in fall at concert hall before performance




Oboe player dies in fall at concert hall before performance

A Miami symphony oboe player died after she tumbled down a flight of stairs minutes before a season-opening concert performance, the band said.

Greater Miami Symphonic Band member Janice Thomson, 62, hit her head Sunday when she fell on the tile floor of the lobby of the Maurice Gusman Concert Hall in Coral Gables, according to the symphony’s Facebook page.

One concertgoer said she was in the lobby purchasing a ticket when she heard a “bone-crunching splat,” the Miami Herald reported.

“We turned around and everyone was screaming and she was on the floor bleeding,” Grace Harrington told the newspaper. “Everyone was running to get her. They were screaming for a doctor.”

Thompson was rushed with internal bleeding to Jackson South Medical Center, where she succumbed Monday to her injuries, the Miami Herald reported.

The Greater Miami Symphonic Band said Monday that it will dedicate their Dec. 10 concert to Thomson.

“As has been our tradition, we will have an unoccupied seat in the oboe section with a single rose on it,” the band wrote on Facebook.


By James Smith

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Venice Floods Because of Highest Tide in 50 Year




Venice devastated by second highest tide in history

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) – Venice’s mayor called the city a disaster zone on Wednesday after the second highest tide ever recorded swept through it overnight, flooding its historic basilica and leaving many squares and alleyways deep under water.
A local man from Pellestrina, one of the many islands in the Venetian lagoon, died when he was struck by lightning while using an electric water pump, the fire brigade said.

City officials said the tide peaked at 187 cm (6ft 2ins) at 10.50 p.m. (2150 GMT) on Tuesday, just short of the record 194 cm set in 1966.Night-time footage showed a torrent of water whipped up by high winds raging through the city centre while Luca Zaia, governor of the Veneto region, described a scene of “apocalyptic devastation”.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro said the situation was dramatic. “We ask the government to help us. The cost will be high. This is the result of climate change,” he said on Twitter.

He said he would declare a disaster zone and ask the government to call a state of emergency, which would allow funds to be freed to address the damage.

Saint Mark’s Square was submerged by more than one metre of water, while the adjacent Saint Mark’s Basilica was flooded for the sixth time in 1,200 years – but the fourth in the last 20.

A flood barrier was designed in 1984 to protect Venice from the kind of high tides that hit the city on Tuesday, but the multi-billion euro project, known as Mose, has been plagued by corruption scandals and is still not operative.

Brugnaro said the basilica had suffered “grave damage”, but no details were available on the state of its mainly Byzantine interior, famous for its rich mosaics.

Its administrator said the basilica had aged 20 years in a single day when it was flooded last year.
Some tourists appeared to enjoy the drama, with one man filmed swimming across Saint Mark’s Square wearing only shorts on Tuesday evening.

“Venice is on its knees.. the art, the basilica, the shops and the homes, a disaster.. The city is bracing itself for the next high tide,” Zaia said on TV.

The luxury Hotel Gritti, a landmark of Venice which looks onto the Lagoon, was also flooded.

On Wednesday morning the tide level fell to 145 cm but was expected to rise back to 160 cm during the day.

Local authorities and the government’s civil protection unit will hold a news conference at 1100 GMT.

The overnight surge triggered several fires, including one at the International Gallery of Modern Art Ca’ Pesaro, with hundreds of calls to the fire brigade.

Video on social media showed deep water flowing like a river along one of Venice’s main thoroughfares. Other footage showed large waves hammering boats moored alongside the Doge’s Palace and surging over the stone sidewalks.

“A high tide of 187 cm is going to leave an indelible wound,” Brugnaro said.

Much of Italy has been pummelled by torrential rains in recent days, with widespread flooding, especially in the southern heel and toe of the country.

In Matera, this year’s European Capital of Culture, rain water cascaded through the streets and inundated the city’s famous cave-dwelling district.

Further bad weather is forecast for the coming days.

Reporting by Riccardo Bastianello; Writing by Crispian Balmer, Giulia Segreti and Gavin Jones; editing by Grant McCool and John Stonestreet

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Disney Plus streaming package debuts Tuesday with Marvel, Star Wars and more





The new service is $7 a month, commercial free

NEW YORK — Disney will sprinkle its pixie dust on the streaming arena Tuesday, as its Disney Plus service debuts with an arsenal of marquee franchises including Marvel and Star Wars, original series with a built-in fan base and a cheap price to boot.

The $7-a-month commercial-free service is poised to set the standard for other services like WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and NBCUniversal’s Peacock to follow, as major media companies behind hit TV shows and movies seek to siphon the subscription revenue now going to Netflix and other streaming giants.

Disney’s properties speak to its strengths. Besides classic characters such as Snow White and Pinocchio, Disney has Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic — big names that most people would recognize. Disney Plus will also have all 30 past seasons of “The Simpsons.” Original shows include “The Mandalorian,” set in the Star Wars universe, and one on the Marvel character Loki.

“I really love both the Star Wars and Marvel franchises and I grew up watching classic Disney shows and movies so I do think there will be enough content for me,” she said.

Marlina Yates, who works in marketing in Kansas City, said she signed up because of her husband’s enthusiasm about the Star Wars series “The Mandalorian” and her daughter’s “love affair with princesses and everything Disney.”

Disney Plus’s $7 a month price is about half of the $13 Netflix charges for its most popular plan, and there are discounts for paying for a full year up front. Disney is also offering a $13 package bundling Disney Plus with two other services it owns, Hulu and ESPN Plus. That’s $5 cheaper than signing up for each one individually.

Everything won’t be available to stream right away, though, as Disney needs to wait for existing deals with rival services to expire. Recent movies missing at launch include the animated Pixar movie “Coco” and the live-action “Beauty and the Beast.” Others like “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” haven’t been released for streaming yet. Disney expects 620 movies and 10,000 TV episodes by 2024, up from 500 movies and 7,500 episodes on Tuesday.

Disney has said that it is losing about $150 million in licensing revenue in the most recent fiscal year from terminating deals with Netflix and other services. But Disney is betting that what it makes through subscriptions will more than make up for that — at least eventually.

Disney is boosting its subscription base initially with heavy promos, much as Apple TV Plus has done and HBO Max and Peacock plan to do. Members of Disney’s free D23 fan club were eligible to buy three years of Disney Plus service up front for the price of two years. Customers of some Verizon wireless and home-internet plans can get a year free.

The hope is that subscribers will stick around once they see what the service offers.

Long-term success is by no means guaranteed. With a slew of services launching, subscription fees can add up quickly. Consumers might be reluctant to drop an existing service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime to pay for something untested.

“I can’t keep up with so many services. It gets expensive,” said William Pearson, a Drexel University student who describes himself as a “massive” Marvel fan but already pays for Netflix, HBO and the DC Comics streaming service.

But compared with other newcomers, experts believe Disney will have no problem gaining — and keeping — the 60 million to 90 million worldwide subscribers it is targeting for 2024. It took Netflix twice as long to get to 90 million.

“Disney Plus has a gigantic array of content and a library that’s unmatched, so it feels like an easy addition for consumers to get a gigantic library at that low price,” said Tim Hanlon, CEO of Vertere Group.

Bernie McTernan, internet and media analyst at Rosenblatt Securities, said Apple’s venture into streaming, Apple TV Plus, has to build brand recognition for its new shows, while viewers may have difficulties seeing what HBO Max offers beyond the standard HBO subscription.

Source Denver Post

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