“Death smiles at us all. All we can do is smile back…”
Indeed, death is smiling at the Islanders right now, but smiling back may be easier said than done. If Charles Wang wants to do his best Proximo rendition to rally his gladiators, he will have to find a way to fund this project himself. However, given the massive financial hit he’s taken over the past few years, not to mention the contentious relationship he has with Nassau’s shortsighted Democrats, the Islanders future out east is dubious at best.
Now, those of you who have been reading my scriptures for the past year and half or so, know that I never get political when it comes to blogging. I learned a long time ago that people don’t change their stances during the heat of debate. However, working in the sports biz, I have a hard time analyzing this from any other perspective.
This arena should have been built a long time ago in the location he originally wanted, with public funding. The scale of his original Lighthouse Project was too ambitious sure, but a slightly smaller scale would have been great for Wang and great for Nassau.
Stripping this plan down to bare bones and building a new arena in the same location as the current Coliseum was a mediocre idea. Still, thousands of construction jobs could have been created and Nassau could have made money off of sales tax revenue long-term. In my opinion the $14 and $58 a year tax increase for single-family homeowners would have been well worth it to put people to work.
Obviously the area’s residents feel differently, so what happens now?
The Islanders lease doesn’t end until 2015, but the chances of Wang allowing himself to bleed money for the next 4 years is unlikely. As far as relocation goes, I’ve discussed geographic locations to death, but the likely candidate is Quebec City, which will have a spanking new arena opening just as the Islanders lease runs out…coincidence? I think not.
The other option is to find a location in Queens (near Citi Field was rumored at one point), but no one really knows if public funding is available there either. A long shot is the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but that location doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given that a sizeable chunk of the Islanders ticket purchasers live out in Suffolk.
If relocation is the only option, I’ve always been a big fan of moving a team to the Pacific Northwest (very strong hockey ratings), but there hasn’t been any interest in Portland from prospective owners, and Seattle’s government is just as stingy as Nassau, if not worse.
Either way, the Islanders are likely done in Long Island.