May 11, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit (2) and New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) take the ice for pre-game warmups before game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

An Unprecedented Move By The Islanders?


Bruce Ratner's New Nassau Coliseum

A picture of what the new Nassau Coliseum would look like if Bruce Ratner’s proposal is accepted. Photo Credit to SHoP Architects

Uniondale, N.Y.-Stop me if you have heard his one before.  The New York Islanders are doing something that is unprecedented in the NHL. No no, they are not moving their TV broadcasts to a public access channel, and they did not sign Evgeni Nabokov to a 15 year extension. No, this one is actually a lot more interesting.

By now, most people have heard of the different proposals that have been laid out to replace the aging, yet graceful gray lady known as the Nassau Coliseum.  Of the 4 proposals that were presented to Nassau County May 2nd, two stand out above the rest.  Yes there were 4 proposals, but let’s face it, the 2 proposals, from MSG and from Bruce Ratner, are the only ones that really matter.

The first proposal is from our friends at Madison Square Garden. The company that treats the Islanders like the sibling they never wanted proposed that the arena be cut to 14,500 seats. The good news? Sports would still be played in the downsized arena! The bad news? It would be The New York Liberty, The New York Knicks D-League team and a New York Rangers AHL team. Ah yes, that’s JUST what Long Island was waiting for! Refurbish the New York Islanders home for 42 years with an AHL team of their fiercest rival. Makes sense to me.

The proposal is not all bad. They do offer to create something called “Long Island Live”, which would be 150,000 square feet of high end retail and restaurants with famous chefs. A real feature point for Long Island.  Sounds familiar right? Where have I heard that before? OH I remember now! THE LIGHTHOUSE PROJECT!

Then, we have what is perhaps the most interesting of all. This is the proposal from Bruce Ratner and the Barclays team. Their “dream team” includes Jay-Z,  Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and a company called Legend, which is  an entertainment and concession company owned by the Yankees and Dallas Cowboys and fronted by former MSG President Dave Checketts.

Their proposal would be to turn the aging Coliseum into a 13,000 seat arena.  There would  be 1 pre-season Nets game, 38 minor-league hockey games, and 50 concerts. The proposal also includes a large movie theater, an outdoor amphitheater and 50,000 sq feet of retail space. Again, nothing new. We have heard this all before.

Here comes the “unprecedented” part of the proposal. In addition to the aforementioned events, the Islanders would still play 4 regular season games at the “NEW” Nassau Coliseum.  They would play 6 games a year there in total. This has never been done before and according to an NHL official is “unprecedented”. No NHL team has ever played home games in 2 different markets. Slam dunk right? Great idea! Not so fast. This would not just be something the Isles could just say they want and then make it happen. Like Long Island, the NHL has a series of hoops you must jump through before something like this could happen.

First step would be to get it approved by the league. I am guessing this is going to be tough. The league isn’t going to be thrilled with something unorthodox. But, if they can explain to the league how important it would be for the team to hang on to its Long Island fan base, and how it would probably improve ticket sales, it would definitely help their case.  It’s not like it’s that far from Brooklyn and would cause any undo headaches for visiting teams. The Marriott next door to the Coliseum is still standing, and still will be standing in 2015. Oh yeah, it’s also owned by a man you may have heard of, a Mr. Charles Wang.

Here’s where it gets tricky. There’s a team who plays a few miles to the west named the New York Rangers, although we have all had a few other choice names for them over the years, they are still officially known as the Rangers. When the Islanders were awarded a franchise on Dec 31, 1971, they had to pay the Rangers a $4 million fee for impinging on their territorial rights. You see, when the Isles came along the Rangers were told that they own the territory for 50 miles around their home in midtown Manhattan. Because of that agreement, and the fact that it was never amended to include the Isles or Devils existence, we have a teensy problem with playing games in a 2nd arena. Technically, the Rangers had to approve the Isles move to Brooklyn, and predictably they didn’t put up a fight. But you combine what would be a  losing bid for the site with more press for your rivals and the Rangers may not be so keen on letting the Islanders come back home. According to NHL rules, not only can the Rangers object, but any other team who believes that its unfair, has every right to block the Isles from playing roughly 10% of their home schedule back on the Isle.

Some people have complained about the spaceship/futuristic look of the arena in the Ratner proposal. Guess what? Who cares?! Would they still play games here if they chose this proposal? Yes? Fine.  I am less concerned about the retail space, the movie theaters and all the other extraneous things, and more interested in the 6 games back on Long Island.

The most concerning thing to me would be the seating. With only about 15,000 seats in Brooklyn and just 13,000 at the New Coliseum, even with 41 sell outs, the Isles would likely have the lowest attendance in the league. This is something that may be concerning to the NHL. We still have a ways to go with these proposals, and anything can change.

Even the Queen Bee herself, Hempstead Town Supervisor, and public enemy #1 to Islanders fans, Kate Murray, said there were no “obvious red flags” in any of the plans. If you recall, Charles Wang was never able to get support from the Hempstead Town Board for his plan. If the “Big Boss Lady” is ok with these plans, it could go a long way towards something new at the Coliseum site.

I happen to think that the whole thing reeks of impropriety. I am not exactly Mr.  Conspiracy Theory, but it’s not breaking news to say that Wang and Murray were at loggerheads over this whole proposal.  They clearly didn’t like each other. Both of the parties wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Wang took his toys and went to Brooklyn, and now Murray wants to show him that she doesn’t need him to have something great on the site.

Seemingly, no matter what proposal is chosen by the powers that be of Nassau County, something interesting will be happening in Uniondale; even after the Isles flee for greener, or more concrete, pastures.



Tags: Brooklyn Bruce Ratner Nassau Nassau Coliseum New York Islanders NHL

  • nyifancentral

    Sloppy entry on your part. The 1986 amendment allows the Islanders to move to Brooklyn, Queens or Suffolk with no approval from whoever owns the Rags. Second the Devils even had to pay the Islanders territorial rights when they joined the NHL with the Flyers and Rags. Third the Nets were able to move to Brooklyn because Dolan needed Nets approval to become sole owner in 1997. You are taking a lot of sources based articles from Ranger media (including Dolan’s Newsday/Msg) to claim they gave permission for Brooklyn when in fact their end game was to get the team out of New York entirely to save the cable contract money until 2031 to finance Dolan’s Msg live and their latest entertainment venue.

    Msg has also made clear the Rags would be the home team for exhibition games and open Coliseum practices.

    We have no idea what the league stance is on this or if the Rags are one of twenty eight other votes.

    Dolan’s Newspaper strategy in his paper is to stir up a circus against Ratner to win the bid which was same game with referendum by Dolan before the late tepid endorsement after it was obvious it would not be approved.

    Also Wang per his 2009 sublease can veto any plan he feels hurts his business at the Marriott he also permanently owns not only the hotel but the connecting abatement to the Coliseum.

    Don Monti is Master Developer for the HUB. This RFP is only for the Coliseum site.

    Blumenfeld is in with Smg/Ed Snider Al D’Amato.
    Rechler is in with Dolan.
    Dave Checketts is in with Ratner.
    The other bid also has Smg involvement which means Flyers owner Ed Snider and Smg.

    Expect Dolan to win, he owns the LI media entirely and can make or break Mangano plus Suozzi worked for Dolan and was a huge contributor.

    • joepro2112

      I’m rightfully getting more and more fed up with continuing to hear
      story after story about this ridiculous RFP for the coliseum without any
      mention about the valid point that I am highlighting below.

      Rayner “performed an analysis of the Coliseum’s long-term prospects at Mangano’s request.”

      The not trivial point (still) is:

      But why didn’t the county executive suggest Ratner come in BEFORE
      (not after) the Islanders inked their deal to flee the Coliseum at the
      end of 2015, or perhaps even sooner?

      What the hell is up with that?


      And everyone is supposed to be gaga about buying into this and oohhing and ahhing over this?
      Is Ratner and Mangano for real?
      Who are they kidding?
      What temerity.

      Why isn’t anyone in the mainstream media (that reports on anything
      surrounding the Islanders, the Coliseum, Ratner, Yormark, the move to
      Barclay’s, etc.), making it a point to highlight this aspect and put the
      focus on that since that IS (still) a legitimate and valid question
      that ought to and should be raised repeatedly until reasonable and
      adequate answers are provided?

      Mind-boggling and bewildering that this is somehow not (yet) occurring.

      Could the answer possibly be the county executive is up for re-election later this year?
      so, then how Mangano’s choice of actions (or rather inactions) to date
      regarding (not) taking genuine steps to do whatever he could to ensure
      that something was worked out so that the Isles didn’t move should
      likewise (still) be addressed. It’s certainly not as if that is no
      longer relevant anymore, regardless of the fact that the Isles moving to
      Brooklyn is already on the books as being in the works.

      Anyone wish to clarify/elaborate with factually based info?

      • nyifancentral

        What are you talking about? The RFP Mangano asked Ratner to advise on was for a downsized Coliseum, not the 16,000 plus facility there now. Before that it was Wang who needed a place to play and said he needed a decision in 2012. Michael Picker went to Nassau County on 2/14/12 and said even after the referendum they want to stay but a decision has to be made by the County because it takes three years to construct a new arena.

        Also Wang owns the Marriott permanently and the connecting abatement to the Coliseum he has a say in what get’s built there and can reject any plan he feels detrimental to his hotel.

        There is a 20m video of Ratner, Wang and Mangano about the future of the Coliseum site this year before any RFP.

        The fix is in for Dolan ito bring Msg and their teams to the Coliseum with their media making Ratner the story.

        The story is Dolan wanting another monopoly.

        • LIslanders

          I guess I must be confused. Why would Nassau even consider allowing a developer to now come in at this point, AFTER the Islanders have already decided to leave due to Wang & Mangano & Murray not being able to figure out a way to make it work, only to redevelop the venue with the equivalent seating as before, when Nassau & Murray could have entertained such a notion BEFORE the Isles left if they so chose to do so? If it was primarily due to the fact that it would take 3 years to build a new one, then the County and Wang could have worked out an agreement for an extension of the lease by another year, (or two if necessary) in order to allow for that to happen, or if not, then Wang & Ratner could have chosen to make arrangements for the Isles to play in Brooklyn for only a year or two (beyond end of 2014-2015 season) in order to allow for Ratner to (re)develop the Coliseum (if that was his intentions all along) so that the Isles could remain in their long-time home, particularly since Ratner is involved anyway. Something just doesn’t make sense.

          • nyifancentral

            Why would Nassau even consider allowing a developer to come in now at this point? First of all the HUB has a new Master Developer in Don Monti, it will be his site to develop and deal with Kate Murray’s zone and Nassau politicians. The reduced size Coliseum RFP is only a very tiny part of that picture as in five acres so you have to separate the two.

            That’s Don Monti’s site now, he will have to fight TOH for his mini city and bio tech to go with the parking garage.

            Why was Wang going to extend his Coliseum lease past 2015 when there was no deal on the table and this game going on with Nassau/TOH since 1991? So he could lose even more money with no promise of anything into his 70′s?

            Edmonton, Detroit and countless other teams all are getting huge taxpayer money with no referendum because no one would approve one anywhere including all the taxpayer baseball stadium’s in New York and the Devils arena. Phoenix was willing to give the Coyotes next owner 19m a year to run the arena while here the referendum Wang paid Nassau. Dolan get’s his 15m a year from the taxpayers with free electricity at Msg.

            Wang got to renovate an arena he did not own and paid 20m dollars for the LH and ran all over NY to get the referendum approved while Dolan’s paper created a circus against it to decide the issue long before their phony tepid endorsement.

            Also Ratner does not own the Islanders, Charles Wang does and to relocate is just that, there is no two year temporary move because this is not NYC renting Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium so while one was renovated (1974-1975) both could share. Nassau bringing in Ratner for advice has nothing to do with Wang beyond his hotel interest because events equal a full hotel.

          • LIslanders

            Thanks for clearing that up. It’s sad and pathetic that the main media on Long Island (News 12, Newsday) were unable to provide good journalism (due to Dolan’s agenda) and lay things out clearly with full detail as you have done so that people could have been made aware of the background and particulars in order to understand what the heck is going on. And even anticipating that Dolan’s paper would lack the journalistic integrity that they should have had, that doesn’t explain why the Daily News or the Post or CBS, NBC or ABC News on TV in NY didn’t pick up on this and run with it.

            In the end, this whole convoluted situation is such a debacle, and is reprehensible of how this is all playing out, and even more particularly for many long-time Islanders fans living in central/eastern Nassau and all points east. I don’t fault Wang at all, after the ringer that he has gone through. Not many owners would have had the patience to jump through hoops while continuing to lose money as Wang had done. Thanks to Murray for shooting down Wang’s LH (which is understandable to some degree) but yet at the same time somehow not coming back with a reasonable and feasible plan, as if there was nothing wrong with not doing so. And thanks to Mangano for not having the foresight to take steps to ensure that some sort of arrangement could not be reached between the TOH, Wang & Nassau County to keep the Isles in Uniondale. Pretty egregious on Murray & Mangano’s part for allowing the Isles to leave.
            All I know is that this is all the more reason to not give Dolan my business any longer and drop the Sunday delivery and all of the Optimum services and switch to Verizon.

          • nyifancentral

            Dolan’s paper fired it’s publish, editors and has restricted stories from the employees own words and there are tons of articles on it but here’s one:

            Not one paper reported Dolan’s conflict of interest and another attempt to build an arena monopoly with his bid, instead Dolan’s paper partnered Smg to the Isles made a possible debt of three million front page news, then turned it’s writers on Ratner’s “unprecedented plan” while ignoring it would be unprecedented for Dolan to get control of both Msg and the Coliseum and wrong for a Ranger AHL team at the Coliseum.

            The NYC Newspapers do what they need to do for ad money from teams. The Yankees, Mets, Devils get taxpayer money it’s reported but unlike the Isles that media got selective amnesia demanding Wang pay for it himself but not Steinbrenner, Wilpon, Vanderbeek or revoke Dolan’s 16m in taxpayer money each year. The Giants had their 1976 bill forgiven by New Jersey and both teams got posh workout facilities given to them by New Jersey taxpayers as they call themselves New York.

          • LIslanders

            Of course, part and parcel of the push for the RFP submissions, enabling the County to make a decision by July 15th, is that apparently Nassau/TOH/Legislature/NIFA cannot be humiliated by a closed Nassau Coliseum, and subsequent revenue, even if this is done beyond the term of Mangano/NIFA members and some legislators.

            Some relevant fodder:




          • Guest

            Fodder there is more like fertilizer and completely worthless.

            One fan blogger looking for attention in Giglia who took tantrums when Islanders wanted to keep LH project information private which hurt his interviews in Dolan’s paper who refused to criticize Suozzi’s malaise for years equally with Murray/TOH/Mangano.

            Broke CBS/WFAN that gave NHL Masked Avenger Galof space (he was kicked out again a few weeks ago) because they do not spend money for hockey coverage.

            and James Dolan’s Newsday?

            You ever consider Nassau was going ahead with this RFP even if Isles did not announce a move to Brooklyn and were kicking the Isles out come 2015 regardless of what they decided with Dolan telling Mangano we want the Coliseum years ago?

          • LIslanders

            Everyone has their opinion. I’m merely posting info about this that is already out there. Just because I posted those links does not somehow equate to meaning that I personally agree (or disagree) with all of the content of each. Anyone can choose to read it or not and decide if it is worthless or not.

            Seems like you may have more helpful information that would help to clarify things. If so, then why haven’t you come forth and posted sooner?.

            The issue is not about Nassau going ahead with the RFP regardless of what the Islanders were going to do, but rather that if Nassau knew all along that they did not have serious intentions of dealing with Wang to find a workable arrangement, then why was Nassau complicit in a charade of misleading misinformation that was made known to the public? And for that matter, why bother with even having a referendum take place? What was the point? Why not just come out a NOT choose to knowingly lie by omission? Seems like all a big facade. As if that is somehow supposed to be considered appropriate. And for what? To appease Dolan of all people?