Wednesday, August 3, 2011
What's next for the New York Islanders?
Municipal official in Nassau County had to have known that the $2 million referendum would be a big waste of money or did they actually believe that Islanders owner Charles Wang could convince taxpayers to build him a new arena. It wasn't even close with 57% of voters indicated that they weren't interested in assessing themselves a big tax increase.
Immediately the speculation is that the Islanders are heading out of town or at least to Brooklyn. But clearly the Islanders aren't going too far from Long Island. If Gary Bettman is fighting tooth and nail to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix then I don't see a NHL team leaving the largest media market in America under his watch. So Quebec fans should just calm down.
Well the Islanders are staying put until their lease runs out in 2015 so a lot can happen between then and now. Wang has already taken a run at building a new arena through the private sector. In 2003, community opposition shot down his proposal for the privately-funded Lighthouse Project, a massive US$3.8-billion development that included a new arena, hotel, condominium towers, shopping centre and other extravagance. The Islanders have the lowest attendance figures in the NHL - lower than the Coyotes. That's not going to coax anyone to open up their wallet to buy the team.
Well I don't know whether the Brooklyn option is for real although the arena is clearly too small for today's NHL standards. Still it is intriguing. There is a strong sports tradition in Brooklyn and great access through public transit. And let's not forget the cable TV money. No question the Islanders will be hanging in tough somewhere in The Big Apple.