State Supreme court deals another blow to Sands' plans for Nassau hub in Uniondale


In a significant setback for the Las Vegas Sands' ambitious plans to develop a multi-billion dollar resort and casino around the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, a state judge has declared that the company lacks a valid lease for the Coliseum and its surrounding land.

State Supreme Court Justice Sarika Kapoor, the same judge who previously invalidated Sands' lease with Nassau County in November, ruled that an additional agreement Sands had with the Coliseum's previous leaseholder is also invalid.

Friday’s legal ruling is the latest development in a heated ongoing battle between Hofstra University, Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands.

Last April, Hofstra filed a lawsuit asserting that the county violated the state’s open meetings laws when the Nassau County Legislature approved the lease transfer from the Coliseum's former tenant, Nassau Live Center LLC, to Sands that same month.

Kapoor has since ordered the county to restart the process over and this time, conduct an environmental review before considering a new lease.

Nassau County, however, contended that the Sands held leaseholder rights under a private deal with Nassau Live Center LLC, which then prompted the county to proceed with development plans anyway,  holding environmental and zoning reviews with the Town of Hempstead.

But this recent ruling by Kapoor reinforces Hofstra's stance, and according to Hofstra attorney Adam Schuman, emphasizes the importance of conducting a public hearing and environmental review before transferring or developing the Nassau Coliseum.

“The Court has issued another important ruling needed to protect the public’s rights under state and county laws," Schuman said in a statement. "The Nassau Coliseum cannot be transferred or developed without a public hearing and environmental review first being properly conducted by the County, so that the public can provide its input to such critical decisions for the future of the County.”

Las Vegas Sands, aiming to secure one of three competitive state gaming licenses in the downstate region, had paid Nassau Live Center LLC roughly $241 million to acquire the Coliseum lease. The company was banking on a valid lease to strengthen its chances of obtaining one of the highly sought after gaming licenses.

In her 16-page decision, Kapoor highlighted that any new lease agreement between Nassau County and Las Vegas Sands would need to be in writing and comply with Nassau County administrative code and Open Meetings Law. The county is still currently in the process of appealing

Kapoor's November ruling regarding the violation of open meetings laws.

Adding another layer to the controversy,  County Executive Bruce Blakeman's efforts to involve Hofstra University President Susan Poser in the legal proceedings face delays.

Kapoor, the same judge overseeing the lease dispute, has postponed Poser's appearance before the county legislature, but Blakeman's office still has active subpeonas.

Poser's involvement is part of allegations by Blakeman and  County Legislature Presiding Officer Howard Kopel, suggesting collusion between Poser and Sands competitor Hard Rock International to sabotage Sands' Nassau Hub plans.

 Blakeman has not responded to the Herald’s request for comment by press time.