New convention center pitched for Suffolk County

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, Legislator Jay Schneiderman. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, center, Legislator Jay Schneiderman. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)

Would constructing a large-scale convention center capable of hosting boat shows, concerts and auto shows be a viable means of bolstering the Suffolk County’s economy?

That is the question being posed by county lawmakers who passed a resolution seeking consultants willing to conduct a feasibility study on such a project.

Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk), who co-sponsored the measure with Legislator Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue), said the county is losing out on opportunities to attract large organizations and tourism to the area. Suffolk County, he said, lacks a big enough facility to host regional sporting events, concerts and trade shows. Additionally, he said, the larger exposition center could create jobs in the construction and tourism industries as well as help support the service industry in the surrounding areas.

“Something like this is going to bring money into the economy from outside Suffolk County,” he said.  “It will bring people from New Jersey, Nassau (County), Westchester County and the city here for events. That to me is true economic development.”

Though there is a 60,000-square-foot arena at Suffolk County Community College’s Brentwood campus, Mr. Schneiderman said the county requires an enclosed facility three times that size to accommodate larger, more profitable events.

“It would reach an unmet sector of the market,” he said, adding he envisions the events to include indoor equestrian shows.

Mr. Schneiderman said the consultants’ responses would include a proposal on the size, location, cost and feasibility of the project. The county has not yet committed any money toward the idea.

“This is step one,” said Justin Meyers, a spokesperson for County Executive Steve Bellone, who is expected to sign off on the measure this week.”

“We support the idea of exploring this convention center.”

Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said he also favors researching the project, unless it starts costing money.

“It is good to look at new ideas,” he said. “As long as it is not cost us any money to look into it, it is fine to do.”

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