Tag: arena deal

New York Rangers v New York Islanders

Rivalry put on hold: Current and former Rangers lend support for upcoming Long Island arena vote

Many Islanders fans will tell you they hate just about everything to do with the Rangers. Likewise, many Rangers will share the same feelings towards anything related to the Islanders organization. Consider it one of the perks of a bitter rivalry that spans almost 40 years. But as much as the two sides love to hate one another, dire situations tend to bring out the best in one another. For the Islanders, they face an important Nassau County vote on August 1st regarding public funding for a new arena in Long Island. Note: this is not the same thing as the ill-fated Lighthouse Project that was killed last summer by Kate Murray and the rest of the Town of Hempstead. If they are unable to secure funding for a better home, the Islanders may be forced to look outside of Long Island for a future home.

Fans and players alike on both sides of the New York hockey aisle know that an Islanders departure would ruin something special. They may dislike one another on the ice—but everyone seems to love the rivalry. If the Islanders were forced to move, it would kill something distinctive for all hockey fans in the area—it would be the same for both Islanders and Rangers fans.

A few former Rangers players shared their thoughts on the rivalry and how important it is to keep the Islanders on Long Island. Rod Gilbert scored over 400 goals and over 1000 points over parts of 18 seasons with the Rangers. Even though he played his entire career with the Broadway Blueshirts, he wants the best for Islanders fans:

“I want to see this situation with the arena finally get settled and I know I speak for the Rangers organization when I say that I want to see the Islanders franchise strong forever and ever. I also want their fans to have a team that will never play anywhere else except where they won those Stanley Cups. It’s time the Islanders and their fans were rewarded.”

Fellow Rangers legend and Hall of Famer Brian Leetch shared similar feelings on the arena issue and towards the fans on Long Island:

“Islanders fans have proven their support for the team. It would be bad for the area’s hockey fans and for the NHL to lose this rivalry. The health of the Islanders is important to the league, I know that. It’s disappointing to see the friction over the new arena, but I really hope it gets figured out and the Islanders are able to be competitive for a long, long time. The fans are there, there’s no question in my mind about that. The fans have proven it before. There are a lot who are just waiting to get back in there and fill the place.”

Without getting too deep into the politics of the situation, it’s great to see hockey people getting together for the greater good. Politicians have stated that the referendum (if it passes) would cost Long Island residents $58 per household—a number that has been proven wrong by the folks over at Lighthouse Hockey. Like anything else, the more successful the arena (and team) are in the standings and box office, the more successful they’ll be in the profit column. The Islanders have the potential to make money with a new arena and exciting, young team over the next few years. Members of the Rangers organization know it—we’ll see if the residents in Long Island share their vision.

Of course, there are always other alternatives if the arena deal fails at ballot box.

“…to an Islanders fan, the cost of replacing the Islanders with a Target, Dave and Busters and an Olive Garden is way, way more than $17 per year. But if you are an arena skeptic, I assume that doesn’t count for much.”

Not even Rangers fans would want to see that.

Edmonton City Council has concerns for new downtown arena

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Looking around the current NHL, there are a few markets that are fighting out their arena deals in local government. Charles Wang and the Islanders have been fighting for the Lighthouse Project for years on Long Island. The Coyotes’ (and any future owner’s) lease agreement with the City of Glendale has been the sticking point of the team’s sale since the day Jerry Moyes filed for bankruptcy. For fans out there who thought those situations were getting stale, the City of Edmonton would like to tell you there could be a new arena dispute for public consumption.

Here’s the quick and dirty: The Oilers are looking to build a new arena in downtown Edmonton to replace the aging Rexall Place. The arena is expected to cost $450 million with Oilers owner Daryl Katz paying for about 70% of the arena project. Yesterday, there was a City Council meeting with multiple councilors stating that the arena isn’t a done deal. Those are the bare bone details.

There have been rumors that an arena deal was set and it just had to go through the legal channels before it was official. But in a surprise, someone forgot to tell the council members that they were supposed to just rubber-stamp the arena agreement. David Staples from the Edmonton Journal broke down some of the concerns:

As Coun. Amarjeet Sohi put it at the Wednesday meeting: “There’s a perception out there in certain segments of the public that what we’re going through is formalities, that the decision has already been made. There are some people that we will never be able to satisfy, but I’m hearing that (same thing) from the general public, which concerns me because I haven’t made up my mind.”

Sohi then suggested other councillors haven’t made up their minds, either, and I think that’s generally true.

Coun. Kim Krushell and many others clearly have huge issues over financing that must be answered.

Coun. Ben Henderson and others are rightly worried about how this project will impact the rest of downtown.

Coun. Tony Caterna, Ed Gibbons and Diotte are very concerned about the future of Northlands in this deal.

Maybe there’s something lost in the translation between Canadian English and American English, but that certainly doesn’t sound like a “done deal.” On top of the aforementioned concerns, there’s some debate whether a downtown arena would provide the economic stimulus predicted by the Katz Group and a study presented to the Council. If there are public funds being put up, the government officials want to make sure the city is getting something out of this.

Just like the Lighthouse Project in Long Island, an arena in Edmonton would be part of a bigger revitalization project. Not only is it important in these discussions to insure the arena is built, but it’s equally important to the city that the rest of the project is done in a way to help transform the downtown arena. Anything less and this project will undoubtedly run into a few roadblocks.

It sounds like economists and scholars on both sides of the issue agree that an arena in the downtown area has the potential to make money. When there’s a project that is going to be 70% funded by private monies and is expected to stimulate the economy in a city that could use stimulating, there’s really no reason this shouldn’t get done. But just like we’ve learned in Glendale and Nassau County, things are never as simple as they seem.

Who knows, if things don’t go smoothly, maybe someone will start rumors of an exodus to Winnipeg! That’s how these things work, right?

Report: Oilers aren’t likely to have a new arena by 2014

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With all the talk lately about a potential new arena in Edmonton and the talk about the team potentially looking towards Quebec City as a future destination should things not work out, there’s some new news today about how things will (or won’t) work out in the project.

Oilers billionaire owner Daryl Katz has been trying to broker a deal with the City of Edmonton to help subsidize a new arena for the Oilers in Edmonton courtesy of taxpayer money.  His target date to have it done was 2014 and according to a report, if they want it done by then it’s not likely going to happen.

City officials confirmed Friday that construction timelines and surrounding shops and offices that would go with the rink would make such a deadline “challenging.”

“I think it’s everybody’s target to get something built by 2014,” Simon Farbrother told reporters at City Hall after releasing documents detailing answers sought by councillors deciding whether to help fund the $450-million rink.

“(But) I think probably all parties assume if we’re able to pull a deal together that works for everybody, an extension of that lease (at Rexall Place) for a year or six months or whatever — we’d be able to do that.”

Whenever it comes to stories like these were a team is doing their damnedest to tweak the locals into getting something they want done, you have to wonder if there’s an ulterior motive at work here from the Oilers. After all, they’re trying to get taxpayers to help pay for the arena and the story this week about talk going on with Quebec City sure makes for excellent scare fodder.

With talk of the possibility of an end date for finished construction not being able to be achieved it’s another thing for Katz and his group to dangle in front of the fans and politicians alike to help get Rexall Place replaced. Rexall Place has been around since 1974 making it the second oldest arena in the league behind Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. The Oilers could definitely use a new place to play, but strong-arming the taxpayers to pony up for it when Katz is a multi-billionaire would be a disgusting abuse of the locals and their love of the team. Let’s just hope all this grandstanding doesn’t result in either the taxpayers getting screwed or a team being relocated.