It’s been five years to the day that the New York Islanders fate was sealed in Long Island. They lost an important vote that would keep them in their traditional home. And five years later it’s still affecting the team.
On August 1st, 2011 New York Islanders majority owner Charles Wang failed to win a crucial vote to secure taxpayer money to rebuild the Nassau Coliseum and the grounds surrounding it.
It was a blow for Wang who had been looking to revamp the Nassau Coliseum for years before this defining loss. “I have to tell you I’m disappointed, and to put it very bluntly, I’m heartbroken,” Wang said after the result of the vote.
Just over a year after that vote, Wang would state that the Isles were moving to Brooklyn in 2015. Three years after the vote he would sell controlling share of the team to John Ledecky and Scott Malkin for a reported $485 million.
It’s been a rough five years for Islanders fans, and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding anytime soon. With reports emerging that link the Islanders to a move to one of Willets Point, Belmonte and even back to Nassau County.
The upheaval in the franchise isn’t over yet. The legacy of that vote still lives.
It Wasn’t an Easy Choice
The outcome of the vote meant that the Islanders left their home in search of greener pasture. But the choice wasn’t an easy one for voters.
One on hand they could vote with their hearts and keep the Islanders without thinking of the $400 million price tag it was going to cost them.
On the other hand, there was that aforementioned $400 million cost hanging over their heads. Should voters spend $400 million of their tax dollars to keep a team that was, on paper at least, not financially stable?
Sure spending $400 million may have changed the outcome, but there’s no guarantee that it would have. And then what? The Islanders are free to leave anyways. Leaving Nassau county with a nice new arena without a tenant, and a $400 million dollar hole. Like the St. Louis Rams did.
The vote wasn’t an easy one for any voter, but the outcome changed the very fabric of the team and continues to do so five years later. Was it the right choice? Who knows. But when the choice is between your heart or your wallet the outcome is guaranteed to upset those on the losing side.