Tag: New Islanders arena

Charles Wang

Report: Charles Wang exploring options outside of New York for Islanders


The New York Islanders are busy looking for a way to stay on Long Island with their lease at Nassau Coliseum coming to an end in 2015, but owner Charles Wang may be starting to look elsewhere for a solution to a new arena.

Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank reports that while Wang has long said he’s dead set on keeping the Islanders in New York, he’s letting his eye stray elsewhere.

Wang does not want to leave Nassau County, and staying put remains his first choice. But when I asked top executives to confirm that Wang will only consider overtures from municipalities within the New York metropolitan area, I could not get a promise on or off the record.

“I can’t guarantee that anymore,” said one source on high. “They are looking at options inside and outside of New York State. It would be misleading to say New York only.”

So there you have it.

After Wang wasn’t allowed to build his Lighthouse Project and after getting his arena referendum shot down this summer, it’s easy to see why Wang is frustrated with the situation. There is the Barclays Center opening in Brooklyn in the fall of this year, and while the Isles will play a preseason game there in October, the building wasn’t constructed with hockey in mind.

While the folks in Brooklyn may want the Islanders to make it their home, with a capacity that’s smaller than what Winnipeg has going on, the team can’t clean up on tickets there and Wang is assuredly tired of losing money.

Only thing for sure out of this, people in Quebec City, Seattle, and Kansas City are suddenly a lot more curious about how the Islanders are doing.

The Islanders could be moving … elsewhere on Long Island

Charles Wang

The biggest issue for Islanders owner Charles Wang when his arena referendum was voted down by Nassau County residents on August 1, was about what he would do to find a way to get a new arena and keep the Islanders on Long Island. After all, Wang has said his dream is to bring the Stanley Cup back to Islanders fans on the Island and bring glory back to the franchise. When his and Nassau County executive Ed Mangano’s referendum was buried by voters, hope to do that seemed all but lost.

Ah, but Long Island is a big chunk of real estate and Nassau County isn’t the be-all, end-all location for the Islanders. Sure, there are rumors of bringing the Islanders to Brooklyn in New York City or to Queens, but there’s another county on Long Island that could work as a potential landing place for the team… You just have to go a bit further to east is all.

With the Islanders lease at the Nassau County Coliseum expiring in 2015 and the Islanders in need of a new venue to play in, a neighboring county is getting Wang’s attention as a place to potentially move the team to.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy says he welcomes the idea of the hockey team moving to the eastern end of the island that he represents, as long as it’s good for the team and for the community.

He said on Saturday he called team owner Charles Wang last week to talk about the idea. Messages to an Islanders spokesman were not immediately returned.

Suffolk County is the other, more eastern half of Long Island as opposed to Nassau County and for fans getting a new arena a bit further out on the Island would mean a bit longer of a drive or train ride to get to games. Of course, fans won’t mind that too much as long as it means keeping the team in the area and not potentially moving to an entirely new location in three to four years.

It’s good that Levy reached out to Wang since Nassau County has been less-than helpful to Wang and the Islanders with any and all of his ideas on building a new arena for the team there. Wang’s privately funded Lighthouse Project plans were routinely shot down by the Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray and now the publicly funded arena project was shot down as well by the voters. How this situation plays out is pretty emblematic of how insane politics are these days where the government officials won’t let a madcap billionaire spend his own money to make a dire situation better but instead try to get the people to pony up their own money on a smaller plan instead.

That said, if Levy and Wang can come to some sort of agreement to build things up in Suffolk County, it’s a huge win for Wang as he gets to keep the team on Long Island and gets to run away from the idiotic politics in Nassau County. While it might be a bit more inconvenient for fans to travel a little bit further east on Long Island to get to games, it’s a small price to pay so long as Wang is staying away from the publicly funded route for any potential arena plans in Suffolk County.

Gary Bettman says NHL will try to keep Islanders from moving

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game One

The negative results from Monday’s failed referendum to build a new arena for the New York Islanders was depressing in more ways than one. It wasn’t enough that the referendum reached a “No” verdict by an estimated 14 percent margin; the extra insult was the perceived malaise of indifference.

An estimated 100,000 voters cast their ballots, which is about one third of the typical turnout for November elections in that area, according to The Associated Press. There’s talk that the referendum was designed to take advantage of low voter turnouts, but it still didn’t work, which underscores the team’s dismal situation that much more.

However you slice it, the only question that really matters now is “what’s next?” While his support was a bit vague, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said that the league will do its best to keep the Islanders from relocating once their arena deal expires in 2015.

Bettman said in a statement Tuesday that the league would work with the Islanders “to explore whatever options still may be available in light of what obviously is not a positive development. Our goal is for the team to remain on Long Island and we still hope that objective can be realized.”

There have been all kinds of ideas thrown around, from owner Charles Wang taking even more money out of his pocket to get the arena built, to funding through other private venues and the much-feared idea of relocating the team. However fans might feel about Wang, if his claims that he already lost $240 million running the team are accurate, it’s reasonable to expect him to have a breaking point. It might just be a matter of time before these setbacks force him to find some other way  to stay in Long Island, make a smaller move to somewhere close like Queens or Brooklyn or maybe even make a more dramatic move to Kansas City, Quebec or some other locale that wants an NHL team.

As Joe points out in his in-depth look at the bigger picture options, this isn’t the end of the road just yet. It’s just unclear if there’s a Lighthouse at the end of the tunnel anymore.

Your New York Islanders August 1 referendum primer

New York Islanders Draft Party
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As you may know, tomorrow is a big day for the future of the New York Islanders, Nassau County and the NHL overall. Voters will get the chance to vote for or against a referendum to build a new arena to eventually replace the decrepit Nassau Coliseum, which at this point seems like a mandatory measure for the team to be economically sustainable.

We already shared the fact that the Islanders’ two regional rivals shared their support for people to vote “yes” on the referendum, with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers urging fans and those indifferent to hockey to approve the deal. According to various sources, it appears that the bottom-line cost of the $400 million referendum for voters could be anywhere between $58 and $100 per household (depending on who you ask and if the referendum goes through, that is).

It’s plausible that we’ll have a little more material regarding the building tension and other facets of the referendum between now and the big Monday, August 1 voting, but here’s an extensive collection of some of the opinions and retrospectives regarding that pivotal polling.

New York Newsday’s editorial staff voiced their tentative approval for voting yes.

Nassau County is too populous, too prosperous and too proud to become a place with no significant entertainment venue and no big-time sports team. And it’s too tentatively perched between paths of progress and decline to let a crumbling Coliseum and the flight of the New York Islanders pull it into the pit.

Meanwhile, George Vecsey of the New York Times talks about some of the misgivings of people who simply might not be able to get out to vote anyway.

Life is less hopeful now since the days of Smitty and Potvin. People work two jobs, sit in traffic, suffer the Long Island Railroad, and brood about taxes and budget cuts in their school districts. Skilled workers who fix things at our house muse about moving out of state, and good luck to that. Overpriced homes sit on the market; young people rent or settle for less; the county’s finances are currently under the review of a state oversight board. Does this sound like a county that should be skittering deeper onto the thin ice of hockey finances?

Chris Botta puts together a plus/minus tally for the referendum, including this rather amusing takedown of Billy Joel.

Minus: Point Blank has learned that Billy Joel, who cashed in at the Coliseum for more than a generation, has so far decided to not be involved in the new arena issue because he was concerned about the “controversy.” In the last twenty years – unlike contemporaries such as Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Jackson Browne, Joel has not produced any new rock music. He has not taken a stand on anything except repackaging his greatest hits and making a fortune playing nostalgia concerts. Hey Piano Man, grow a pair.

Craig Custance points out that this isn’t just a big vote for the Islanders and its community, either.

This isn’t just a big vote for Islanders fans, it’s a big vote for hockey fans in Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, Hamilton, Ont., or any other place hoping to one day lure an NHL team like Winnipeg successfully did in landing the Thrashers this year.

Forbes’ Tom Van Riper wonders if a vote for “no” would really guarantee that the team would leave while Larry Brooks brings up an interesting idea: what if the New Jersey Nets owner decides to move the Islanders to Brooklyn if the team needs to relocate?

It stands to reason that [Mikhail] Prokhorov would be interested in acquiring a hockey team that would account for 44-60 dates a season to fill the arena if Wang puts the Islanders on the market.

For a little more reading on the matter, Grantland’s Katie Baker runs down the history of the old Nassau Coliseum while Lighthouse Hockey tackles what locals should wear on Monday. Stay with PHT for information updates and more on the August 1 referendum.

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.