8.02.2011

Wang gets beaten yet again - is this the end?

New York Islanders owner, Snooki Charles Wang. (Getty Images)
On August 1st, Nassau county (located on Long Island) held a vote to determine whether or not to spend $400 million dollars in taxpayer money to overhaul the outdated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders for their entire existence. In it, the team had won 4 consecutive Stanley Cups - but, recent struggles for the Isles have left the arena empty and rotting. The Islanders ranked dead last in average attendance in the NHL last season, with just a hair over 11,000 people in attendance on average (only about 2/3rds of the actual capacity of the Coliseum). Their on ice product has been performing badly for the last few seasons, but that is slowly improving as. The Isles are developing an impressive cast of young offensive players, from John Tavares, to Matt Moulson, to Kyle Okposto, to Nino Niederreiter. However, many of the teams struggles stem from the seeming comedy of errors that was the management reign of current NHL on NBC commentator, Mike Milbury - future stars such as Zdeno Chara, Roberto Luongo, and the draft pick that became Jason Spezza were traded away for bad returns... but that’s a story for another day.

Charles Wang has tried long and hard to get this stadium
fixed - this wasn't the first try. (Getty Images)

On August 1st, the citizens of Nassau county voted overwhelmingly “NO” for tax funding towards overhauling the Coliseum. Despite huge campaigns for this vote, the voters understandably decided not to spend their money to improve an arena only used by one team - especially when one considers that the citizens of Nassau county pay among the highest taxes in the country, according to the New York Times. Sadly, the only reason that these steps had to be taken was because Wang's last plan, dubbed "The Lighthouse Project", ended up abandoned. The Lighthouse Project would've had Wang pay for part of it with some of his $890 million in personal worth, instead of the citizens and county footing the bill. The Lighthouse Project would have been positively extravagant, featuring not only a renovated Coliseum but also a pair of 30 story towers, housing, a minor league baseball stadium, and restaurants & hotels. It's $3+ billion cost proved rather prohibitive, however, and a plan to renovate the Coliseum only was put into place - a plan that was voted down yesterday.

The Islanders still have about four more years left on their current lease, likely keeping them in Long Island for that time, unless Wang decides to sell the team. Should the Islanders become the latest NHL team to go up for sale (joining, as far as I can recall, the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars on the market at the moment), they really might end up anywhere. Depending on progress for the new arena that should be under construction in Quebec City, it is entirely conceivable that, following the expiration of their current lease in 2015, the Islanders could become the new Nordiques. Of course, this is all speculation.

I truly hope the Islanders manage to get something worked out. I will never wish the relocation of a team, especially one with such high upside as the Islanders. I know I would hate to see my hometown Washington Capitals leave for greener pastures, and empathize with everyone who has had their favorite team leave. Safe to say, this likely will not be the end of the road for the Islanders on Long Island. However, it is quite the road bump.

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