Sure enough, the New York Islanders arena situation blew up big-time over the weekend, with team owner Charles Wang announcing that since no deal was in place by the time of Saturday’s season opener, management planned to “explore all our options,” including moving the team out of Long Island.
The center of the dispute is over getting zoning approval from the tiny town of Hempstead for Wang’s multi-billion-dollar Lighthouse development project, which would include a rebuilt Nassau Coliseum for the Islanders. Wang contends that Hempstead officials are dragging their feet on giving approvals for the project, which has been in the works for years; Hempstead supervisors retort that they’re still waiting for answers from Wang about what exactly the project would entail. In the latest twist, supervisor Kate Murray called Wang on Friday asking for a meeting to discuss the project, Wang told her it was too late for discussions, Murray passed this on to Newsday, and Wang declared that now he felt he couldn’t trust Murray: “I don’t want to say you can’t, but it’s difficult.”
As to where else the Islanders might go, that’s an excellent question: You may recall that the NHL is already looking at having one franchise in search of a home. A league source insisted to Fanhouse that six suitors were ready to woo the Islanders, but named only two: Kansas City and the New York City borough of Queens. Queens doesn’t have an arena, though, and as we’ve discussed here, Kansas City’s arena is run by AEG, which has an incentive not to offer a sweetheart deal to get a team to relocate.
And before anyone asks: The Atlantic Yards arena in Brooklyn has been “value engineered” to have too small a floor for a hockey rink. So that ain’t happening either, not without Bruce Ratner finding more money under the sofa cushions.