Caution: Speculation Ahead
A recent article on Forbes.com could wake up the dormant hockey fans of Long Island, during a long, hot summer. Every person who reads this blog wants to see the NY Islanders succeed. If it is in Brooklyn in 2015, great! If it’s here on Long Island during the next 2 seasons, even better. What if we could have our cake and eat it too?
Tom Van Riper of Forbes.com, recently wrote an article about the possibility of the Isles staying put in Nassau. Will it happen? Probably not. But let’s look at the facts here.
Bruce Ratner won the bid to redevelop the current Coliseum into an entertainment destination for Long Island when the Islanders leave for Brooklyn in 2015. The current building will be remodeled and downsized to seat only around 13,000 people. Enough for possibly the Sound Tigers to come to Long Island, but not for an NHL team.
Here is where it gets interesting. Ratner also owns the building in Brooklyn. I know, we have all heard the Isles have an “ironclad” lease with the Barclays Center for many years to come. I get that. What if Charles Wang could be enticed to either A. Sell to a party willing to work out a deal to keep the Isles at home or B. Work out a monetary deal with Ratner to have the Islanders stay put now that the arena deal is done. Maybe a combination of A and B, where Mr. Wang turns over control of the day to day operations of the team, but stays on board to develop the surrounding area.
What Charles Wang has wanted most of all for his hockey club, besides a Stanley Cup, is to keep his team on Long Island and build a world class facility right in Nassau. Unfortunately, due to ridiculous politics, and more red tape than a Communist birthday party, he never got the latter, which has always impeded the former.
In the Forbes article. Van Riper has mentioned this very scenario as a possibility. He states “with Ratner now securing a major chunk of the cost needed for an NHL arena, experts say it’s certainly possible that a deal could be worked out in which Islanders’ owner Charles Wang , or the Nassau taxpayers (or both), kick in the rest.”
Now, we know that the tax thing in Nassau isn’t happening. Even if it was $5 a year, the people who run the government of Nassau County have been unable to adequately explain that to their constituents in the past, what would change now? If the Democrats say black, Republicans say white, and vice versa. There is no cooperation, and the people’s best interests have never been put before politics; which is why our team was in this mess in the first place. Even without the taxpayer help, a deal COULD be struck between the two parties. But, before anything like this were to happen, a few things would have to be decided:
- A deal would have to be worked out between Wang and Ratner to forget the Brooklyn lease
- The Islanders and the NHL would have to decide if 13,000 seats is enough, or if they need to make it about 15,000
- The smallest current arena is the MTS Center in Winnipeg. It holds just over 15,000 people.
- Does Nassau County really wanna move forward with an AHL team that draws maybe 5,000 a game? Or do they want a do over, if possible.
I think the most interesting point made in the article is about Brooklyn and it’s relation to the fan base on Long Island. Van Riper says, “Brooklyn isn’t far, but it is a very different place. Who knows if fans from further out east will make it in. ”
On the other hand, some people may argue that because fans way out east may not attend as many games, much to their dismay, it doesn’t mean the team would lose fans. It just means they would just gain fans in a different area. A move to Brooklyn would put them in touch with a new audience. The Isles would have the possibility of garnering even more attention, just as they are once again reaching contender status.
The bottom line is that the best possible scenario for everyone involved is to keep the Islanders on Long Island. There is nothing like having your own building. The Isles are one of the few teams in the NHL that don’t have to share their arena with another pro sport. The branding revenue alone in a new Coliseum could put the Isles once again into financial solvency. This is not to mention the marketing and other new opportunities with keeping the team where it belongs. As the only pro team on Long Island, a place with more than 7M people, a new renovated arena would revitalize Uniondale, add jobs and once again make Long Island a place people talk about; not just for our beaches, but because of our incredible hockey legacy. When John Tavares lifts that Cup, maybe it could still be on Coliseum ice.
Think of what it would be mean to fans to have the Islanders stay put in the only home they have ever known. We could still brand Kate Murray as a villain, because, let’s face it, she’ll always be a villain. But, Charles Wang would possibly the most loved owner in NY sports. He would be known as the man who went out of his way to “Save the Islanders”, while still reaping the benefits himself.
If there is a way to get this done, I sincerely hope they do. Just the mere thought of it has made my day!
Will it happen? Probably not. But it’s fun to dream. Sometimes dreams come true…..