Field of Schemes
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July 25, 2011

Daily News says Islanders arena plan too risky

With one week to go before the New York Islanders arena referendum, the New York Daily News has entered the debate, with an editorial this morning saying "the deal would be a bonanza for team owner Charles Wang while saddling taxpayers with huge risks." Most of the arguments (the county would be risking public money with no guarantee of getting repaid, sales tax receipts would be partly cannibalized from existing county money) are pretty much dead on point, though the editorial does go a bit overboard at the end; for a more in-depth analysis, see my article for the Village Voice site.

The question remains, meanwhile: The Daily News? Really? New York's biggest tabloid isn't exactly known for its eagerness to buck the political powers that be, so there are a couple of possibilities here: The powers involved being on Long Island, it's easier to write from scruples rather than realpolitik; or maybe the News is trying to tweak rival Newsday, whose owner, James Dolan of Cablevision (and the New York Knicks and Rangers) has endorsed his hockey rival's arena plan. Either that, or the Daily News just wants to make kids cry.

Meanwhile, Islanders owner Charles Wang took to the pages of Dolan's paper to declare that a vote for his arena is really a vote for Long Island, and added this tidbit:

Although singer Rihanna played the Coliseum last week, Wang said some top musical talent, which he didn't identify, has refused to appear in the arena because of its condition. The new arena would have at least 17,000 seats and 50 luxury suites, compared to the Coliseum's 16,600 and 31 suites.
"What acts look at is the size of your building. So if you could go to Brooklyn and it's got a thousand more seats or 1,500 more seats than the current Coliseum, where is that act going? They're going to get the same people. People from Long Island . . .," said [Islanders VP Michael] Picker.

I haven't been to a concert at the Coliseum in more than 20 years, and I'm not top musical talent, so I can't comment on the fitness of the existing arena. But if we're really talking about spending $400 million to add 1,500 seats here, then — in the words of one act I saw there — maybe there's another way to do this.


What's your take here, Neil? It seems that a team paying up to $14M/yr in rent for using a publicly financed arena is pretty fair.

Also, have you seen the Devils' arena? It is superb. Who knows if it's worth the cost and all of that, but it is quite the opulent fan experience.

Posted by Ben Miller on July 25, 2011 03:25 PM

$14m a year in rent for an arena that costs $26m a year to pay off is not so fair. If the arena does well and the rent goes up, that's great — but the county would be taking the risk that it wouldn't.

All in all, I'd say it's a better deal than some, but that's not saying much. I would only vote for it if I felt that losing a few million a year in tax money was worth it to make the Islanders happy — that's a price point that everyone needs to determine for themselves.

As for the the Prudential Center, I've seen it from the outside, but not the inside yet. I'll probably make it to a Liberty game sometime this summer (they've been displaced by the MSG renovations), and will report back then.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 25, 2011 03:33 PM

Neil, you watch and attend Liberty (women's basketball) games. That alone should nullify any ridiculous comments you make above. Get a clue loser.

Posted by Neil is a douche on July 25, 2011 08:55 PM

I think you misspelled "girl basketball."

To everyone else: The above is a perfect example of a comment that would be deleted under the "no personal attacks" rule — not because it's misogynist, but because the commenter calls me a "douche" and a "loser," and that type of name-calling isn't allowed. I'm letting it ride, though, 1) as an example of what not to do, and 2) because I'm not in 9th grade anymore, so I think I can take it.

We now return to our regularly scheduled comment thread...

Posted by Neil deMause on July 25, 2011 09:10 PM

The Daily News editorial was incredibly biased, to the point of being embarrassing.

The Coliseum is a hovel. It was built on the cheap, not maintained for years and years, and is falling apart. Nassau County is having to spend $4 million to fix the ice plant and other problems that are plaguing the building.

Neil's oft-made point is that money not spent at an arena/stadium is spent on other things (movies, plays, etc.) within the same municipality. It's true that people would spend their money elsewhere if the Coliseum disappeared -- but much of that money will be in NYC or Suffolk County, since many of the people who come to Coliseum events are not from Nassau County.

The Islanders represented less than 30 percent of the dates at the Coliseum last year (I got this figure from someone who works there). With a new arena in Brooklyn coming online next year, a renovated MSG and two arenas in Northern New Jersey, the Coliseum cannot remain as it is and hope to be a viable facility. Musical acts, ice shows, etc., will bypass the Coliseum in favor of newer, bigger arenas -- and Long Island patrons can take the railroad right to the Garden or the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Nassau voters have to answer a question -- how much does having a major pro sports team and the ability to see shows, concerts, etc. on Long Island mean to you. The answer will be different to different people.

The real comedy will come if/when the arena falls through, the Isles announce they will leave -- and all the politicians try to blame the lack of a new arena on the other party.

Posted by DonK on July 25, 2011 10:14 PM


If what you are saying is "The Islanders should have struck a deal with Prokhorov/Ratner to play in Brooklyn" (and, reading your post, that's what it seems like), then I agree with you.

If you believe that spending $26m per year (a minimum of $12m of which uncovered) on debt service to build a new arena so that you don't have to spend $4-6m annually in upkeep is a good financial move, then I disagree with you. And that's without considering the fact that even new arenas have update/upkeep costs (though generally major upgrades don't happen every year)...

The Devils, Rangers/Knicks (soon) and Nets will all have new multipurpose venues in the near future. Charles has missed his opportunity... and frankly, I'm not surprised. This franchise could be the worst run in pro sports (yes, worse than the Dolans, imagine!). A new arena won't fix that. Alexei Yashin? Again? Really?

Posted by John Bladen on July 25, 2011 10:32 PM

The islander's arena issue doesn't really belong in this forum/website for the simple reason that its one thing for a municipality to pay for a sports team's venue when 99.9% of the events held in the upcoming arena will be by the tenant/team. Its another thing when a county desperately needs a new venue with or without an anchor tenant. Islanders were just 30% percent of all activity at the coliseum? That may be inaccurate but its probably somewhere around there. Whether the Islanders are there or not, a new coliseum is needed.

Posted by d on July 26, 2011 03:43 AM

Can the Barclays Center accommodate an NHL-size ice surface? Looking at their web page, it appears that fixed seating extends nearly up to the basketball court.

Posted by Steve R on July 26, 2011 09:02 AM

d- What could "desperately needs a new venue" mean? In most of the country counties have been having huge staff cutbacks. Most of them desperately "need" some more housing inspectors and social service program staff, not a new venue. Maybe Nassau County is just swimming in cash? But if it is I would be pretty annoyed as a taxpayer.

Now if the project is self financing (i.e. profitable) then it is a pretty easy decision, but as this website is trying to explain, it is most likely not.

Thus the county does not "need" it at all. Many counties all over the country survive just fine without a major stadium. In an adjacent county they have a giant zoo, how does your county survive without a zoo? In another county they have a giant lake that is filled with million dollar homes, why doesn't Nassau County build a giant lake? Sorry to be so facetious, but if there is anything that drives me nuts in these discussions it is talk of "need".

It is simple, you look at two things:
1) Do the ACTUAL economic benefits justify the costs (obviously this will be a contentious issue where our predictive tools are still pretty primitive).

2) To the extent the benefits do not justify the costs is the "social benefit" to the populace worth paying for it anyway (this is extremely easy to determine by simply sticking it on a referendum as "Bob this will cost you $15/year on your property taxes for 20 years, do you want to do it yes or no?"

Posted by Joshua Northey on July 26, 2011 10:39 AM

I was about to call Neil out on his math skills (in a friendly, respectful way that in no way made a derogatory comment about him) when he wrote that LI would be spending "$400 million to add 1,500 seats" but then I read the article linked and realized the bad math is on Newsday.

Let's get this straight - acts don't want to come to Long Island because the Coliseum is too small and other venues in the area have more than 1500 extra seats to attract Rihanna and friends.

So the solution is to build a new building for $400M that adds 800 seats to capacity (400+ seats in addition to 19 luxury boxes with I'm assuming 20 seats each) but is still 700 seats short of the 1500 extra seat arenas that are wooing acts away from you? Either the acts really don't care about those extra seats and will go to whichever venues will sell out or those acts do care and the Islanders didn't put much thought into making their arena plan fit this model.

Vote NO Long Island!

Posted by Andrew T on July 26, 2011 11:31 AM

Steve R: No, the Barclays Center can't handle a hockey rink. See:

Whether it could be retrofitted to fit the NHL, I don't know, nor do I know what it would cost. But "move the Islanders to Brooklyn" is anything but simple.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 26, 2011 11:58 AM

I am a very strong supporter of the new facility (Unlike a lot of the projects that are underway like Atlantic Yards). The reason are simple: Without it, you will see even more shuttered businesses on Hempstead Turnpike/Front Street than have occured already. Anyone who takes a drive starting on Fulton Ave in Hempstead, and heads up the Turnpike into Plainedge, then doubles back onto Front St in East Meadow (By the Medical Center), will know exactly what I am talking about. Two notorious areas that have been ghost towns for over a decade are the K-Mart property on the Turnpike ,
and the former Hempstead General Hospital facility on Front Street (Less than a mile from the Coliseum). By the way, (The former Waldbaums across the street from K-Mart is not small either). You have to wonder if Borelli's (Which as been in the same location since the 1950's# or even Hooters across the street from Eisenhower Park, can remain in business without the Coliseum business? By the way, I really expect that this will pass with 75%-80% of the vote #The only fear I have is if there are default and debt fears coming out of Washington, which could dampen the % vote totals, and make it easier for the Nassau County Financial Review Board to reject the plan).

Posted by David brown on July 26, 2011 01:39 PM

I said this previously in another string: I am still waiting for a prominent opponent to say what they want as an alternative. Remember: this is county owned land. It is a county owned building. To bring the building up to modern standards is going to cost millions. Wang will not be paying those fees; he will be gone. So do the opponents still want a building? OK, who's going to pay for it? OK, so you don't think the county should pay for it? Well, I guess we're tearing it down then. So what do you want in its place? I actually had a guy yesterday in a Facebook discussion suggest a Wal-Mart. You know what? I commented that at least his argument has logic. But are you seeing the Daily News suggest a Wal Mart? Are you seeing the Daily News suggest anything? It's time for the opponents to say what they want there if they think this plan goes down, and be realistic about it. Do not suggest Wang building it on his own. It's not going to happen. So....the suggestion box is open. What do you want? How about you, Neil....any ideas? Remember, one more time: this is county owned land and it's a county owned building.

Posted by John Kingston on July 26, 2011 02:24 PM

On Barclay Center, it can accommodate an ice surface, but it'd be like the Coyotes when they played at US Airways arena. The scoreboard would be at the blue line and many seats would be lost and/or sold as obstructed view seats.

Posted by Ben Miller on July 26, 2011 02:57 PM

John K: I'd want to see the financials on rehabbing the Coliseum — "it'll cost millions!" is what they always say, but then it turns out that was the price tag on gutting the whole thing and replacing it with platinum fixtures, etc.

If the Islanders were to leave — and I'm not so sure they'd bolt immediately if they lost next Monday, if only because there are so few other options to move to — then having a bunch of county-owned land as an asset wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, especially in a land-hungry market like greater NYC. You'd RFP it out, and see what you come up with.

As I've said repeatedly, I don't think the Wang proposal is the worst deal in the world. But as it looks like the county would end up taking a loss, even if not a huge loss, it's certainly worth exploring what the alternatives would be — whether involving the Islanders or not. Otherwise you're just bidding against yourself.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 26, 2011 03:08 PM

Thanks, Neil. I want to note something else. There's a story in Newsday today about the efforts that Hofstra have made -- some of them successful -- to raise its profile. It has become more selective, drawn more out of state students, etc. And now it's opening a medical school. So I don't think it's unreasonable for the county to make a decision that it wants the land where the Coliseum sits now to be some sort of public use. You build an entire complex of public space, including Nassau Community College, the Mitchel Field track area, the museums, and Hofstra -- which all exist -- and you top it off with a new arena and baseball stadium. What is the value of that? Hard to say, but it isn't zero; it's beyond the terms of the lease. You sell off that land just to get the best deal, you've destroyed that public space option just to fill your coffers with the most cash. And next to this booming Hofstra, you've stuck some profitable use, but one which might kill the whole idea of that university being part of a growing corridor of education, entertainment and public space. And I think even a political conservative can state there is value to public use facilities like that.

Posted by John Kingston on July 26, 2011 04:26 PM

Thanks, Neil. I want to note something else. There's a story in Newsday today about the efforts that Hofstra have made -- some of them successful -- to raise its profile. It has become more selective, drawn more out of state students, etc. And now it's opening a medical school. So I don't think it's unreasonable for the county to make a decision that it wants the land where the Coliseum sits now to be some sort of public use. You build an entire complex of public space, including Nassau Community College, the Mitchel Field track area, the museums, and Hofstra -- which all exist -- and you top it off with a new arena and baseball stadium. What is the value of that? Hard to say, but it isn't zero; it's beyond the terms of the lease. You sell off that land just to get the best deal, you've destroyed that public space option just to fill your coffers with the most cash. And next to this booming Hofstra, you've stuck some profitable use, but one which might kill the whole idea of that university being part of a growing corridor of education, entertainment and public space. And I think even a political conservative can state there is value to public use facilities like that.

Posted by John Kingston on July 26, 2011 04:27 PM

Neil, you've got to understand that Charles Wang doesn't own the building, doesn't own the property, nor the building rights. The proposed Arena will be owned by the County (Taxpayers# and payed for mostly by Charles Wang. Why should he, or anyone for that matter pay 100% for a building he does not own?

Islanders aside, the main attraction to the Coliseum are trade shows, concerts etc...etc. Keep in mind, theres a brand new building being built in Brooklyn #with more seating#, as well as a complete refurbishing of MSG #again, more seating). No one is going to take their act, or event to Nassau Coliseum once that happens if it isn't rebuilt with a larger capacity. Once it's clear that Nassau can't draw big acts, the Coliseum will close, and take with it a good chunk of tax money and revenue for the county.

A new Arena will cost the taxpayer a maximum of $13.80. Shut the Coliseum, and it will cost the taxpayers a minimum of $16.00 to make up that tax revenue. Not to mention the loss of jobs.

Posted by Jester9881 on July 26, 2011 04:32 PM

Jester: I've explained this before, but happy to do so again: With an arena, the last thing you want is your name on the deed - it just means you have to pay property taxes, and are stuck with the thing 20-30 years down the road when it's declared obsolete. If you're getting the revenue streams from the thing, you should pay for it; given that Wang would be getting 88.5% of the revenues here, it seems reasonable that he be asked to pay 88.5% of the costs.

What's your source for those $13.80/$16.00 figures, by the way?

John K: I have no problem with public use facilities, but I'm not all that clear on how a privately managed arena qualifies as one. What's the synergy with Hofstra supposed to be exactly?

Posted by Neil deMause on July 26, 2011 04:38 PM

Jester: I happen to be in favor of most new arena projects (including this one), but the Coliseum will stay useful without the Islanders if the county keeps up maintenance on it. Music acts and other touring entities like UFC and WWE rarely care about luxury boxes or club seats. They want a decent sound system, a configurable bowl and seats to sell.

A week and a half ago I went to a major WWE event ($750k gate, when the avg. Islanders gate is around $500k) at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. That place is a cramped, single concourse, luxury/club seating-free, 31 year old arena in the same metro area as the very modern United Center. Why did WWE go there when they could've drawn 2k more people 20 miles down the road? The same reason Rihanna came (and would continue to come) to Nassau: cheap rent.

Posted by Ben Miller on July 26, 2011 05:12 PM

The place is a dump. It is falling apart-it's not about adding 1500 more seats. It's about having a state of the art arena that will draw more business.

Posted by DDB on July 26, 2011 05:22 PM


Everyone talks about the 'cost' of not replacing the coliseum because of all it's "shortcomings".

It's going to cost $26m p/a to service the debt on a new building. Has anyone (*other than stadium design companies, who have a vested interest in new rather than revamped buildings) discussed reasonably what a major refurbishment to 'present' standards might cost? You can do a great deal for $100m.

And lets look at "non building" issues: The major one that always comes up is transit & access to the facility for Manhattan/Brooklyn and even some Queens residents.

Ok, so out of that $26m in annual spending that Nassau county could free up (if they don't do the present proposal), let's look at transit improvements and arena upgrades. It isn't only Charles Wang that will benefit from those kinds of public investments...

Posted by John Bladen on July 26, 2011 06:07 PM

The tie in is not just with Hofstra, it is its integration with the entire range of public space there. First of all, nobody expects that the Coliseum, if rebuilt, will remain what it is now: a building surrounded by asphalt. There is new zoning in place that will allow construction of a variety of uses, not as extensive as the Lighthouse would have been, but still opening up the prospect of public use. If we just go to a RFP/highest bidder, there is a real possibility that what gets built there doesn't integrate with that idea of public use.

One other thing: this is Nassau County. Let's assume the vote goes down and the Coliseum doesn't get rebuilt. Despite what some people here think, there is no future for the arena. None. So how long does it take for whatever takes its place to get built? Five years? 10 years? More? It took at least 10 years, and maybe more, for the Town of Hempstead to get its act together and allow some redevelopment -- and it's awful redevelopment, nothing appealing at all -- where Roosevelt Raceway stands. So what happens during that time? No jobs, no tax revenues, no nothing. Where's that figure in the opponents' calculations?

Posted by John Kingston on July 26, 2011 07:55 PM

Ben, as to your Rihanna concert: the Coliseum has had a terrific lineup of concerts this year. Cheap rent isn't the reason. The reason can be figured out by one stroll around Madison Square Garden: it's closed for the summer to be renovated. So shows that otherwise would have gone to the Garden are coming to the Coliseum and to the Rock instead. Don't delude yourself into thinking differently. The concert lineup in recent years has been horrendous, and it's different this summer only because of the Garden renovations.

Posted by John Kingston on July 26, 2011 08:10 PM

All of this really comes down to what economists call the but-for problem: What would happen but for doing the deal? If you assume that the Coliseum gets demolished and everybody takes the LIRR to Brooklyn for their entertainment, then at least the Islanders deal salvages some kind of economic activity, if at a high price. If you assume that the Coliseum is viable, or that even if it's not many of its customers will stay in Nassau for entertainment, then it's harder to justify $26 million a year.

I don't think anyone here can say for sure which is right, though we all have our guesses. It would be nice if we had the answers to those questions - or at least some disinterested studies - before the vote, but apparently that's not going to happen.

If anything, this is a good example of how hard it is to fashion a stadium/arena deal that's fair to taxpayers: Here you have a proposal where the team would be paying significant rent, and where the governing body has a legit worry about losing economic activity to neighboring areas (unlike, say, Minnesota, which is just surrounded by more Minnesota), and it's *still* tough to make the numbers pencil out on the public side. People really need to get over thinking of sports facilities as cash cows and realize that, once you factor in construction costs, they're money pits — going halfsies on a money pit might well be preferable than taking on the full load, but it's still nothing to get excited about.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 26, 2011 10:21 PM

I don't think of it as a cash cow. But given where the arena is, at the heart of what could be a true hub of activity for a suburban area that otherwise has no core, no identity, and is bleeding its young people. I can't quantify it, but there is value in sending out a signal to businesses that have left, to young people who have left, that we CAN do something different, that we aren't just the county of "no." This is killing us. We need to change directions. That's not the situation in a place like Minneapolis.

Posted by John Kingston on July 27, 2011 07:30 AM

Neil: since you asked where are the $13 a year figures coming from, you could try the. "how to argue with an arena skeptic" on the blog site. I don't know how accurate his figures are but that's a source. Keep in mind that $14 minimum is a floor versus 11.5% of revenues if they do well, so will the taxpayers. Wang will pay for overruns over $350 million.

As an Islanders season ticket holder, I would like to see this
built if done right. Currently the concourses are crowded during intermission, there are long lines for the indoor bathrooms (there are temporary ones outside, if you want to go outdoors on a winter night) and the place would be a fire hazard for getting out quickly since all three levels use the same doors on the ground floor. I strongly urge that a new building not have these problems. The ice is considered to be one of the worst in the league and an Islander goalie was injured on a rut during a pre game drill.

We should be skeptical of inflated claims of economicbenefits and Wang's ownership has more failures than successes. But he has operated on a bad lease signed decades before he bought the team and claims to have lost $230 million owning it. Even if that is an exaggeration by half, that's pretty much "build your own arena". No one else wanted the team and many previous owners were either penny pinchers or crooks
(hello John Spano). Besides aren't there other things besides money? As economist Andrew Zimbalist, a noted critic of economic benefits of new arenas argument, says New York City cold make aton of money if they zoned Central Park for housing and industry. But no one wants that. Everyone thinks that having a park is worth it.

I don't go to many concerts nowadays but back in the 1980s, I found it frustrating I would have to travel to Madison Square Garden or Brendan Byrne in NJ. Would a new arena fix that for todays concert goers? And if Wang moves/sells the team in 2016, will the present arena still have the circus, car shows, job fairs, etc? Or will it be torn down? What to do with tjis land has been a political football for a half century since the Air Force closef Mitchel AB. So I say build it but keep a lose eye on Wang.

I refuse to take a newspaper like the Daily News seriously since they employ the worst sportswriter ever in Mike Lupica. And I usef to think that Dick Young wad stupid.

Posted by Jim Overmeyer on July 27, 2011 09:23 AM

Jim, two things in response to your post:

--If Wang sells or moves the team in 2015, the Coliseum might stagger along for awhile, but it will be an economic and engineering money pit. It has to come down, to be replaced with...

--And here's where I have some new information. For those who want "something else" to go in there, I checked on how long it was between when Roosevelt Raceway closed, and when they tore it down. A year? Four years? Do I hear five? Try 12. Twelve friggin' years. So if the Coliseum is closed, expect to see it as a big ugly empty hulk with a lovely chain link fence around it for a long time. And then maybe we'll get a new senior citizen housing/Applebee's/Chili's combination there, like we have where the Raceway was. Such vision!!

Posted by John Kingston on July 27, 2011 11:45 AM

The Nassau Coliseum, as is, is not a viable facility. The Isles have asked for $4 million to repair the ice plant and some of the lower-bowl seats. The ice plant, in particular, has deteriorated badly and needs repair/replacement.

If the Islanders leave, the Coliseum is dead. Once Brooklyn and the revamped MSG are online, no major act will go to the Coliseum -- why go to a hovel when you can play a palace? The question is not "new arena or old arena" -- it's "new arena or no arena."

No opponent of the bond issue has addressed what happens when the Isles leave (and they will -- the problems with the building could even give them an early out on their lease, which extends through 2014-15). As John K. notes correctly, it took 12 years to redevelop the Roosevelt Raceway property. If the Isles stay to the end of their lease and leave, you're talking about something replacing the building between 2025 and 2030.

Posted by DonK on July 27, 2011 08:35 PM

Leave for where, Don?

Posted by Neil deMause on July 27, 2011 08:38 PM

Neil: "If the Islanders were to leave — and I'm not so sure they'd bolt immediately if they lost next Monday, if only because there are so few other options to move to..."

What is your rationale for this statement? There are several municipalities with completed or soon-to-be completed arenas that are pushing for a primary tenant. Kansas City has been begging for an NHL team to move into the Sprint Center since they were spurned by the Penguins. Seattle is looking to build an arena with the sole purpose of luring an NHL team. Quebec City's arena is expected to be completed in 2015, ironically the same year the Isles' lease is up. Atlanta just lost their team to Winnipeg. The only reason Hamilton, Ont. doesn't have a team is because Jim Balsillie really rubbed the other owners the wrong way with how he went about trying to move first Nashville, then Phoenix there. What makes people believe that options are few to none?

I've seen this lack-of-alternatives argument made elsewhere, and it makes no sense to me. Now's the time when you're starting to hear all sorts of relocation talk, with some franchises in distress, others with ownership issues, and hockey-starved locations north of the border begging for teams (Canadian media is very good at whipping fans into a frenzy by constantly showing on their sports shows empty arenas during NHL games in the U.S., and running polls about which Canadian cities should get relocated franchises).

Posted by P13 on July 27, 2011 09:11 PM

Kansas City's arena is, as I've covered here previously, run by AEG, so they're unlikely to give the Islanders the sweetheart lease they require

Seattle is not building an arena anytime soon, certainly not with public money as the Islanders would want.

Hamilton is likely out for the reasons you note.

That leaves pretty much Quebec, and local officials there want way more than 11.5% of revenues - they're looking to go halfsies:

Add in that being even on the outskirts of the NY media market is worth a bunch in cable and sponsorship dollars - or would be if anyone started paying attention to the Islanders again - and it's hard to see where they'd move to that would be an improvement on staying put and throwing another Nassau arena plan at the wall to see if this one sticks. I'm not saying there's no risk of the Islanders bolting, but it's not, say, the Seattle Sonics here, where you had an ownership group basically looking for an excuse to leave town for a ready-made destination.

Posted by Neil deMause on July 27, 2011 09:20 PM

As for a possible destination for the Islanders, could a second NHL team move moved to Toronto? The possibility was floated last year and the Maple Leafs didn't openly shoot it down. I don't know what arenas would be open..Air Canada Centre must be pretty full with Leafs, Marlies and Raptors. I am not saying it will happen but I don't remember in the late 1970s anyone thinking that a team would move to New Jersey and stay there for 30 years now.

Or who knows. Bettman may find some fool into thinking that the third time is the charm for Atlanta.."it's a great place for hockey..Boom Boom Geoffrion and Tom Lysiak moved there" as he said on his radio show two years ago.

Posted by Jim Overmeyer on July 28, 2011 02:23 AM

Or to pull the name of another city out of thin air, why not Austin, Texas? I follow F1 auto racing and it was a complete shock last year that they were awarded the privelege of paying Bernie Ecclestone $26 million a year with an annual
10% increase and give him adverstising signage rights. Plus build a track for $350 million for a sport few Americans follow, hold the race for seven years in midJune heat. But hey, "f1 brings $400 million into the community" says the lead organizer Tavo Holland. Which is why Spain, with two F1 races, has no financial problems at all.

We may not automatically think of Austin as a big metropolitan area, I know I don't, but they are 14th in the US market.

There are cries periodically to Bring back the Whale to Hartford Ct. I have had my doubts about the area..middle of Bruins vs Rangers, but you never know

My point being there are a lot of suckers available if you know where to find them.

Posted by Jim Overmeyer on July 28, 2011 02:38 AM

It amazed me how fast Winnipeg went from a longshot to get a team to actually getting one. Atlanta had struggled for years but suddenly, the team was on the market, nobody locally wanted to touch them, and they found a willing buyer up north. There are some differences with the Islanders: a solid TV contract, a fan base that could be reignited if not put through the endless pain on and off the ice, location in a hockey-fan city. But all that means nothing if they don't have a place to play, and nobody is going to buy them locally without an arena. So yes, the Isles very easily could be on the move.

Posted by John Kingston on July 29, 2011 11:08 AM

Neil, love the site. Three teams in NY/NJ a bit much. Even Bettman has reiterated this in the distant past. The Isles couldn't draw flies. Building an arena of gold wouldn't change that. As an organization, they are the complete alter-ego of what they once were. Everything they attempt is a disaster. It appeared as though Mike Milbury was still an employee of the Bruins during his tenure as GM. Wang makes a solid hire in Neil $mith, but fires him 40 days and nights later only to hire the backup goalie as GM.
By someone taking this turkey and starting over in KC, this would allow BOTH Columbus and Detroit to take their rightful position in the East. That's assuming Phoenix stays in the west. Don't get me started on that.

Posted by arch leester on July 30, 2011 06:48 PM

Add Houston, Texas to the list of relocation cities to consider if the Islanders decide to move.

Posted by Daniel Francis on July 30, 2011 07:00 PM

wang was willing to foot the ENTIRE $3+ billion bill for the lighthouse project, but we have kate murray to thank for that because of things like traffic and zoning violations (lolwut?)

using simple logic: why should he pay for something that he not only doesnt have ultimate control over, but that he basically have very little say in

using more simple logic, when thousands of people are chased away from nassau nassau county because they either have to relocate or because their jobs were terminated, how is that money going to be made up? in classic nassau county fashion, we're a population of excess. people will spend $2k on a handbag, but dont want to spend $15 for something that will make where we live a more inviting place to live and visit.

penny wise and pound foolish.

we can also talk about how the spike in taxes will crush our already miserable housing market (because of the existing high tax rates!!), but we can save that discussion for another day

Posted by Phil F on July 31, 2011 02:39 PM

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