Tag: arena referendum

Charles Wang, Ed Mangano, Kate Murray

Islanders arena referendum voted down by Nassau County residents; What next for Charles Wang?


Charles Wang’s dream of having a new arena built in Nassau County on Long Island for his New York Islanders was shot to pieces tonight by the voters he’d hoped would stand up for the team. By a margin of over 13%, Nassau County taxpayers voted against the $400 million proposed arena referendum.

With Wang and Nassau County executive Ed Mangano’s brain child being denied, Wang has to go back to the start once again in his designs to build a new arena on Long Island for his hockey team. This is the second time Wang has had his hopes dashed thanks to politics.

Wang’s Lighthouse Project, which saw him putting up all of his own money to develop the land around Nassau County Coliseum and give his team a new place to play, was repeatedly denied by the Town of Hempstead and vehemently opposed by the town supervisor Kate Murray. This time around, Mangano and Wang’s proposal sought out $400 million in public money to help build a new arena for the Islanders and a minor league baseball stadium on the grounds as well.

Wang has said already that if this referendum was shot down that he wasn’t going to keep trying to do something in Nassau County saying he’d met his wits end in dealing with the local politics. The result of this vote likely did nothing to change his mind on those matters. As Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank notes, the next move is all up to Wang as to what happens next.

Mangano called it a “great day” because the people had their say. Wang said he was “disappointed” and “heartbroken,” but declined to discuss specific next steps. He also said he was really looking forward to a great season from his team this season.

Mangano and Wang could still try to work out a different deal with legislature and see if NIFA will approve it.

Or perhaps finally, for the first time since he bought the team eleven years ago, Wang will publicly dance with other municipalities.

There are possibilities still out there for Wang to work something out to keep the team in the area. There’s talk that the Isles could move to Brooklyn and play in the Barclays Center currently under construction for the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. There is concern, however, that the arena’s floor setup isn’t meant for hockey and would potentially cause problems. There’s also the chance that Wang explores building options in Queens. The team wouldn’t quite be on Long Island, but they’d stay in the immediate area.

There’s also the possibility that if nothing is done by the time Wang’s lease with Nassau Coliseum in 2015 he’ll already have plans in place to relocate the team outside of the tri-state area. That would make for an absolute last resort move for Wang and the Islanders.

New York State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs, a major opponent of the referendum, tweeted that he believes Wang and Nassau County will get a deal worked out in the future to privately fund an arena in the county for the Islanders to play at. That leaves us wondering where his support for the Lighthouse Project was when the Town of Hempstead was busy shooing that away.

As for Wang, he posted his comments on the defeat of the referendum on the Islanders website. He’s sad but focused.

I’m heartbroken that this was not passed.  We’re disappointed that the referendum pertaining to the arena was not voted by the people of Nassau County as being a move in the right direction for growth.  I feel that the sound bites ruled the day and not the facts.  Right now, it’s an emotional time and we’re not going to make any comments on any specific next steps.

We’re committed to the Nassau Coliseum until the year 2015 and like we’ve said all along, we will honor our lease.

The result casts a dark cloud on the future of the team on Long Island and while this is still far from over with, this referendum was viewed as the Islanders’ best shot yet of getting a new arena and continuing to call the island home for the foreseeable future. Now it’s up to Wang to figure out how he wants to tackle things next and whether or not he’ll be able to do so without major government interference.

Polls are closed on Long Island, now the wait for results begins for arena referendum

New York Islanders referendum vote

At 9 p.m. the polls closed on Long Island in Nassau County for the vote to see whether or not the county’s citizens are willing to spend $400 million to help build a new Nassau Coliseum to house the New York Islanders.

As with all things involving the Islanders, the vote didn’t go without its own fair share of drama. The story that dominated the day was about how the voter turnout was lower than expected across the county. With so much money at stake here for the Islanders, one would figure that the battle in the polls would break down between Islanders fans and those who would like to see their tax money used for other reasons.

What helped keep the voter turnout low later in the evening, however, were delays on the Long Island Railroad thanks to thunderstorms and hail that knocked out service to trains. While the storms kept some voters from getting home in time to vote, neither side sought out an extension to keep the polls open to try and squeeze in a few extra votes under the wire.

One very curious reason was mentioned as to why they wouldn’t extend the hours of voting.

Polls close at 9 p.m., and results will be available after 11 p.m., said Democratic elections Commissioner William Biamonte. He cited the need to pay police overtime as one reason the county would not extend voting hours at precincts.

If the county is worried about affording overtime for police officers, it makes you wonder about the feasibility of spending $400 million for an arena and minor league baseball park. These types of questions are similar to the ones we’ve asked in the past about the City of Glendale ponying up $25 million to keep the Coyotes in Arizona while they don’t have an owner. The fact that we’re even comparing the Islanders to the Coyotes at all is frightening on its own.

The ballots will be counted up at the county board of elections. Once a projected winner is known or the results are posted, we’ll find out if Isles owner Charles Wang gets his wish or gets to start scouting out for a new solution outside of Nassau County.

Devils and Lou Lamoriello throw support behind Islanders arena project

Lou Lamoriello
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As the August 1 date approaches for the Islanders referendum on whether or not the taxpayers will help pony up $400 million to build a new arena on Long Island for the team, the one bit of support they can count on is coming from the strangest sources. Who knew that the Isles could bank on getting support from Glen Sather and the Rangers but also from the New Jersey Devils as well.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello, while busy helping the Islanders on the ice by swapping Brian Rolston for Trent Hunter, is busy helping them off of it by pledging his and the rest of the Devils organization’s support for the Islanders’ arena project. Lamoriello posted a message on the Devils website proclaiming that the Devils wholeheartedly support the Islanders referendum and want to see the team stick around a bit longer than their current lease that expires in 2015 will allow them to.

Much like Lamoriello himself, his message was all business and straight to the point.

“The New York Islanders are a proud organization with a championship history. Monday’s referendum vote on a new Nassau Coliseum is vital to ensuring that tradition lives on.

Since opening Prudential Center in 2007, we have seen first-hand the tremendous impact that a new facility can have for our fans and the surrounding community. A world-class facility is fundamental to success in the modern sports landscape, and a necessity for both the fans and the players.

Owner Charles Wang and General Manager Garth Snow have assembled a core of talented young players whose future depends on a new home on Long Island. We look forward to continuing our Atlantic Division rivalry for years to come.

The Devils support the Islanders in their quest for a new arena, and urge Nassau County residents to vote yes this Monday.”

The Isles getting this kind of support from their rivals and neighbors is encouraging for them to see and, perhaps more importantly, it’s important for the voters to see it as well. After all, if even your rivals don’t want to see you leave town that shows how important they are for the area and for the league.

Of course, if the referendum doesn’t pass, the possibility that the Islanders will relocate following the expiration of their lease on Nassau Coliseum in 2015 increases exponentially. Sadly still, even if the referendum passes there’s the outside possibility that the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) will still shoot down the plan. Of course, passing the referendum shows the commitment of the people to pay for the project, something NIFA would have to take into strong consideration.

August 1 is a huge day for the Islanders and their organization and if Charles Wang’s plans don’t move ahead, we could be talking about the Islanders moving to Quebec City, Seattle, or any other city with interest in having an NHL franchise.

Charles Wang: If arena referendum doesn’t pass he’s not trying to develop area anymore

Charles Wang

For whatever you think about Islanders owner Charles Wang, there’s one thing you cannot question about his leadership of the team. Wang’s dedication to trying to do things to improve the team in the face of a host of problems has been tireless. While it’s easy to pick on the monstrous contracts he’s given out in the past to Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro and how the team has done under his watch since buying the Islanders back in 2000, he’s at least had his heart in the right place.

Wang has tried over the years to get a new arena project going on Long Island to build a new facility for the Islanders. Nassau Coliseum is currently the second oldest arena in the league (just behind Madison Square Garden that’s being renovated) and it’s widely described as being the worst current venue in the NHL. Wang tried to fix things by himself with his Lighthouse Project but the Town of Hempstead repeatedly shot down his plans for that.

Now, with a major vote coming up on Long Island for taxpayers to decide whether or not they want their tax money to pay for a new arena and minor league baseball stadium, Wang has made it known that if the referendum doesn’t get passed and the plans are not approved, he’s no longer going to try and develop the Nassau Coliseum area opening things up to a questionable future for the Islanders on Long Island when the lease at the coliseum runs out in 2015.

New York Newsday’s Ted Phillips has the story from the excitable Islanders owner.

Wang said the lease he negotiated with Mangano is “plan A” and there is no plan B.

“We’re asking people to approve the deal we have,” he said. “You can always tweak this, do this, so forth . . . It’s like anything else. You have a whole mix of things where you negotiate a business deal. Some of which you may love and some of which you may not like as much, but you come up and you do the deal then.”

Wang sees himself as better positioned because the clock is ticking on the current lease.

“The biggest asset a team has . . . is an expiring lease,” he said.

Wang wouldn’t say whether he was in talks about relocating if the referendum fails.

It’s a desperate time for the Islanders fans. Getting a new arena is something most every team in the NHL has seen over the last ten years. That doesn’t make it their right to get a new one, but if there’s a team that needs it, it’s the Islanders. Nassau Coliseum is described as “the mausoleum” by many for its dreary lighting and seemingly antiquated set up.

Making things more desperate for the Isles and their fans is the talk of relocation. With sites like Quebec City and Seattle being talked a lot about potential places to move and Kansas City having an arena ready and waiting to be received by any major sports team, the possibilities are there. Of course, moving a team with the kind of history the Isles have would be virtually criminal and it’s something Wang is trying desperately to avoid doing down the road.

That said, hockey’s a business and if Wang cannot get any of his plans to try and improve things for his team he’s got every right to try and find a way to make things better by himself. He’s done that with his Lighthouse Project plans that were foiled and, down the road, he could do that with a possible relocation bid. That would be the ultimate desperation move and that’s what makes the Islanders August 1 vote all the more important to the future of the team in New York.