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May 12, 2010

Mets "talking" with Islanders, MLS about Queens move

More rumors of rumors, but: New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon tells Newsday (via its new sister publication Gothamist, since Newsday has hidden all its articles behind a $5/week paywall) that he's "had conversations with Islanders owner Charles [Wang] and we've talked about Queens," and that he's also talked to MLS commissioner Don Garber about a soccer stadium, though "we probably can't do both."

Any hockey or soccer venue would presumably be built in the Citi Field parking lot, though Willets Point is always a possibility as well if New York City follows through with its redevelopment plans. The bigger question — who would pay for it — Wilpon and Newsday left undiscussed.

If nothing else, anyway, this gives Wang some added leverage on his move threats to kick Nassau County into approving his plans there. And who knows, maybe Wilpon is just doing his fellow owner a favor by tossing out some red meat to the tabloids — though right now it's not like his team doesn't have its own ways to get itself into the paper.


The Islanders are NOT going to Willets Point. It took 6 years to get Daniel Goldstein, Freddys Bar, and everyone else out of Atlantic Yards (And these guys are pussycats compared to the Land Owners at Willets Point (Keep in mind they survived for DECADES without a sewer systen)).In addition, even the Bloomberg Administration is against this, and with Atlantic Yards and the renovated MSG, there will not be enough events to make such a facility profitable. I believe it will be Brooklyn or out of NY for the Islanders.

Posted by Januz on May 12, 2010 12:16 PM

rangers won't allow this without heavy indemnification, it's their territory.
with what the islanders would have to pay the rangers to get into nyc, they would become the second version of what happened to the nets in the 80's.

Posted by paul w. on May 12, 2010 01:26 PM

I'm guessing this is more NY tabloid BS. Isles for Kansas City and MAYBE MLS in NYC for 2012. Though it'll probably take centuries for that bit to even start - it is New York, after all.

Posted by Marty on May 12, 2010 02:17 PM

The assumption that the Islanders would have to play the Rangers compensation is wrong. It's a myth. Rangers dont have territorial rights to Queens, just as the Knicks dont have territorial rights to Brooklyn or Queens or Staten Island. They both used to, but not anymore.

As the lack of a market, the New York area still has a lower ratio of seats to population than any of the other metro areas. And without the Islanders, Nassau Coliseum could simply wither and die.

Finally, the Atlantic Yards ruling by the Court of Appeals will actually help facilitate eminent domain in Willets Point...and once the Court rules in favor of the state on Columbia, as it almost certainly will, the law will be even more settled, making the case much more difficult to win.

Posted by Bobbo on May 12, 2010 06:24 PM

From article 4.1 of the NHL Constitution: "Each Member Club shall have exclusive territorial rights in the city [in] which it is located and within fifty miles of that city's corporate limits." And article 4.3 states that each team can veto relocation of a team into its home territory.

The Knicks specifically waived their rights to allow the Nets to move into Brooklyn, though I'm still puzzling over why. (Not that anything Cablevision has done with the Knicks has made sense.) I'm not aware that the Rangers have waived any of their rights — have you heard otherwise, Bobbo?

Posted by Neil on May 12, 2010 06:38 PM

Neil, isn't that the very part of the NHL constitution that has kept teams from moving into Hamilton, Ontario?

Posted by Steve Steffens on May 12, 2010 07:43 PM


The Nets and the Islanders paid both territorial rights fees to the Knicks and Rangers when they joined the leagues in addition to the expansion fees(it was difficult for the Nets since they could only afford the expansion fee and territorial rights fee and not have enough money to pay for a substantial raise for Dr. J).

As long as they're still within their territory, neither team has to pay a territorial fee again, think of it as a circle with the the arena(or corporate office) as the center of the circle. I know the NHL's boundary limit is 50 miles, I'm not sure what the NBA's is.

Posted by Roberto on May 12, 2010 08:36 PM

Steve: Precisely.

Roberto: I've heard that argument before — that the Islanders' $4m fee to the Rangers back in the 1970s gives them a Go Anywhere In NYC Free card now — but zero evidence for it. Not saying it's impossible, just that nobody seems to agree on whether it's true. If you have a source, I'd love to hear it.

Posted by Neil on May 12, 2010 09:04 PM

NHL territorial rights were hashed over ad nauseum during the Coyotes-Hamilton fight. The NHL has stated (and I think Gary Bettman even testified to the fact in bankruptcy court) that the Leafs never had a veto over a team moving into Hamilton. The story was that the above quoted clause was in reference to two NHL teams playing a game in third team's territory (if you can believe that).

Posted by Greg on May 12, 2010 10:14 PM

the shovels will never get to the ground in willets point. the group has uncovers massive fraud in the city's egeis & amr reports where they have tried to cover up the affects of the projected traffic, they also have years of legal fights ahead like goldstein and columbia ( 5-6 years ) so whatch the fox news report ''its our land'' today or tomorrow on fox cable news and see all about willets point.. hey wang -wong move to kansas city it will be faster and cheaper

Posted by biggie smalls on May 13, 2010 05:58 AM

The territorial rights argument has no merit. The Islanders can build in queens without issue since they're already a NYC area team, just like the Devils were able to build their own arena in Newark and like the Nets are doing in Brooklyn. These are established NYC teams that likely wont infringe upon the already established fan bases.

As for the development, it makes sense. For all of those who support Willets Point owners, its clear you've never been to Willets Point. The owners are not holding out on their land for sentimental value or any other reason except for trying to squeeze every penny they can out of the city for their contaminated and run down properties. The area is just as neglected by the business owners as it is the city, and the owners have never asked for improvements to these conditions because that would mean higher taxes and utilities fees. The owners are not only stealing from the city, these businesses are notoriously known as chop shops for stolen parts and cars. Countless times at Mets games at Shea Stadium, people's mirrors would be sawed off and hubcaps would be stolen off of their parked cars. Beware of the facts before you're too quick to judge, because the media loves to portray the story of "bad government vs small town mom and pop business owner" because it sells well.

There's no stopping the process at this point, the lawsuits are without merit. It will be announced before the end of this year that the Islanders and an MLS expansion team will both be in Queens around 2014.

Posted by Fred on May 13, 2010 09:05 AM

This excerpt from the NY Times should clear this up:

In 1972, when the Islanders joined the N.H.L., the $4.5 million territorial fee they paid the Rangers gave them the right to occupy only Nassau County. But a 1986 amendment to the agreement allowed the Islanders to move to Queens and Brooklyn, and within Nassau and Suffolk counties.


So yes, Islanders can move to Queens OR Brooklyn without problems.

Posted by Bailey on May 13, 2010 12:24 PM

there's a larger issue: competing in the New York City market. There's a good rule of thumb in the arena world: it's very hard for a market to support more than one major arena. In New York, there are already four -- Madison Square Garden, Prudential Center, the Meadowlands, and the Nassau Coliseum. A new Brooklyn arena would bring that to five. Of those existing four arenas, only one is thriving -- Madison Square Garden -- while the Nassau Coliseum and two Newark arenas struggle (though a deal to coordinate bookings in Jersey should solve some of the issues). Of course, New York City is like no other market in the world -- but adding another arena to the mix may be too much.

Posted by paul w. on May 13, 2010 12:38 PM

Thanks, Bailey! That does indeed clear things up, assuming we can trust the Times. (The first two things I was taught as a fact-checker were 1) the New York Times is the gold standard for sourcing and 2) the New York Times itself does no fact-checking.)

Posted by Neil on May 13, 2010 02:01 PM

@paul w

Nassau has no future period. Meadowlands/Izod or whatever it's called now has no future as a venue for pro sports. That leaves the Pru, MSG, and Atlantic Yards (where I still think the Islanders will wind up)

Now, KC has come up in this thread. If Neil's right, then Kansas City would rather the Sprint center *not* have a pro sports franchise tied to it, as it's more profitable (less unprofitable may be better) without one.

The Islanders will move. They'd rather suck the NYC teat even with the Rangers & Devils pawing at the neighborhood nipple. It's just more profitable that way. NYC has a great track record for throwing money at stadia & arenas also...

Posted by Anderson on May 13, 2010 03:37 PM

i've been to willets point and don't want to see people lost their businesses to the city for a hockey team that sucks. looks like iraq over there but thats the city's fault, are these people supposed to lay their own streets and install their own sewers? and don't tell me it can't be done without moving them. with all the tec we have now are you kidding? find an excuse and i'll show you how its the city's fault.. wing wang move to kansas city

Posted by joe a on May 13, 2010 06:09 PM

A MLS team/stadium @ Willets Point would be awesome. Every stop on the 7 train would be packed with NYC MLS fans.

Moving the Icelanders to Queens would be a disaster. 95% of all hockey fans in Queens are hardcore Rangers fans. Rangers fans would show up just to get into fights with Icelander fans every night. Terrible idea......

Posted by nyrmetros on May 13, 2010 06:49 PM

the title of the article says it all. leave them alone. i predict politicans will wind up in jail and wilpon in trouble after this is all said and done

Posted by dan f on May 13, 2010 06:50 PM

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