Blog Entry

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:11 am
 

By Brian Stubits

'Tis a sad, sad day not only on Long Island, but in the NHL. With the vote on a new arena for the Islanders being shot down by the people of Nassau County, it seems to be a lock that the team will be looking for greener pastures after 2015 when the lease with Nassau Coliseum runs out.

"I have to tell you I'm disappointed and to put it bluntly, I'm heartbroken," owner Charles Wang said after the votes came in.

We aren't here to rub salt in the wound for the Islanders fans. Losing a franchise is in no way a fun experience and no reason to delight. It can feel like losing a family pet to the die-hard fans. We aren't at that stage yet, and it's still very possible the Isles won't venture too far. The possibilities of playing somewhere else on Long Island certainly exist, let alone staying in Nassau County. But it's also a possibility they desert the Island.

If the team were to move, the first question that would have to be answered is who, exactly, would own the team? Once upon a time, Wang admitted regret to buying the franchise, saying he wouldn't do it again. This could be his chance to sell if he so chooses.

At this point, though, Wang is staying mum about the future of the team, instead saying he wants to focus on next season. That doesn't do much to calm the worries of fearful fans.

Whether he sells or not, though, the team almost certainly won't be playing in Nassau Coliseum after 2015. That much Wang has made pretty clear. But who knows? At this point, there's a long way to go. His tough-line stance certainly could have been a ploy to increase the sense of urgency on the matter. I doubt it, but then again I doubt that the Islanders are content to sit around for four more years, listening to relocation chatter, either.

If they do move -- still a pretty big if -- here's a look at the potential homes.

Brooklyn: Yes, the team might not actually leave the tri-state area. Early this year, it was reported that Nelson Peltz had interest in buying the team and moving it to Brooklyn, to share the not-yet open arena that will serve as the new home of the NBA's Nets. Whether or not Wang sells the team to Peltz (how about Nets owner and Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov?) or keeps it for himself, the borough could be a potential landing spot that keeps everything mostly in tact. It becomes a little bit further of a commute for the majority of the fan base that lives on Long Island, but it beats seeing the team move more than an hour away. Aside from a passing vote tonight or another county on Long Island stepping up to build an arena, this would be the next best solution.

Quebec City: Ever since losing the Nordiques to Colorado in 1996, the fans in Quebec have been dying to see the NHL return, much the same as the fans in Winnipeg. Just check out the wonderful simplicity of makeit8.ca. Of the out-of-state options, Quebec seems to be in the best shape considering it has a potential owner in Pierre Karl Peladeau, the chairman of media giant Quebecor. The kicker is that, while Quebec City doesn't have an arena right now to hot a team, it plans to by2015, which would work perfectly with a potential Islanders move.

Kansas City: Sure, there is an arena available (the still new Sprint Center doesn't have a primary tenant), but who would own the team if Wang looks to sell? That's the golden question. The fear is growing in Kansas City that it built a new arena on the belief it could land either an NHL or NBA franchise but won't get either. It could soon become a reality.

Houston: There isn't tremendous appeal to Houston other than it being a massive market. But it's a city that continues to get mentioned on the back end of the lists for relocation, mainly because of the market size and that it has an arena. But the hurdles (non-traditional hockey market, no prospective owner) are tough to clear under the assumption that the team would be sold.

Seattle: It doesn't have a clear owner (although a group expressed interest to the league) and it doesn't have a suitable arena. After watching the NBA's SuperSonics fly the coop because of a refusal to publicly build an arena, you wouldn't think there would enough support before a team is even in town to build a new arena. At this moment in time, a very long shot.

Milwaukee: I'll just continue to ask why this city never gets more consideration. It's a good state for hockey and a team could share the Bradley Center with the NBA's Bucks. The Kohl family could probably afford it no problem.

Hamilton: We have to throw it on the list because, quite frankly, the number of markets is drying up fast for the NHL to move in to. You have to wonder if Gary Bettman and the Maple Leafs would be OK with another team in southern Ontario when faced with a possible alternative of contraction. No commissioner wants to have that on their resume. But we know there is an owner who would want it (Jim Balsillie) and who has shown a willingness to build a new arena.

Long Island: Pick the county, any county. The leg work would have to begin now, but it would in the end be great to see the team stay (mostly) put.

Photo: Getty Images

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Comments

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

In the spirit of ABC's Schoolhouse Rock.....Contraction Junction...that's my function (or something like that).
Contract the Islanders! Not only is it the right thing to do...it's the only thing to do...or they can always move to Canada. Then maybe they will finally stop losing.  



Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

If you were to give Canada an enema you would stick the hose in Windsor
I always thought of Windsor as the end of Ontario's johnson. After all, Ontario's got a HUGE peninsula! ;)

Whatever you think of Windsor, at least it isn't Canada's armpit (Most say Hamilton, but Brantford is FAR worse). When stuff stinks here, the stink remains stagnant for what seems like an eternity.



Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:23 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

I live in Southern CT and can tell you that there is a buzz about Hockey in this area.  The Hartford Whale dont draw a huge fan base, but I think that an NHL team would.  The XL center is a decent arena, but could use some improvments, and the team would pull fans from Springfield as well as all of CT. 



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:04 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

SkyHawk, I am surprised that you are the first to mention Hartford.  I agree that they could be a location for the Islanders, and then they could keep their AHL team in Bridgeport.

The Hartford Civic Center had some major problems at some point - I think the roof caved from too much snow.  In any case, I always liked watching the Sabres play the Whalers and CT is a strong hockey market.  I think that getting the funding for an arena is why they are now Carolina and that getting approval in this economy is even less likely.  It would be great to see the Whale back, though.
Yeah, they'd need a new building, but I think they could stress the necessity to get it done now. Hartford has to know this isn't like Quebec, where they will have a chance whenever things are in place. This is Hartford's one and only shot to get back in the NHL.



Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 5:02 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

If the NHL werent so a**backward, they should take the Lightning and Panthers and put them in Quebec and Milwaukee.   
Taking the Lightning out would be backwards. Tampa Bay has been a success for the NHL's southern movement and there's no reason the Lightning should go anywhere. The Panthers, on the other hand, wouldn't be missed.



Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:30 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

I am glad to hear someone finally mention Milwaukee as a potential NHL city.  It has never made sense that the NHL would expand to southern markets that have no interest in the game let alone an actual day with enough ice for pond hockey!!  Milwaukee is a no-brainer.   Wisconsin is a hotbed of hockey interest with potential rivalries with Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, and St. Louis.  Bradley Center is a more than suitable arena located in an underrated downtown district.  There are plenty of folks in Northern Illinois who have been priced out of United Center for the Bulls and have purchased Bucks season tix to get their NBA fix.  The Blackhawks tix are even more expensive, so its hard to believe they wouldnt be able to poach some fans along the border.  If the NHL werent so a**backward, they should take the Lightning and Panthers and put them in Quebec and Milwaukee.    



Since: Feb 19, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:24 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

If you were to give Canada an enema you would stick the hose in Windsor
Way off topic, but has to be the funniest comment I have ever seen on these boards.



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 4:16 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

SkyHawk, I am surprised that you are the first to mention Hartford.  I agree that they could be a location for the Islanders, and then they could keep their AHL team in Bridgeport.

The Hartford Civic Center had some major problems at some point - I think the roof caved from too much snow.  In any case, I always liked watching the Sabres play the Whalers and CT is a strong hockey market.  I think that getting the funding for an arena is why they are now Carolina and that getting approval in this economy is even less likely.  It would be great to see the Whale back, though.



Since: Mar 3, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 3:26 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

I live in Windsor.
Here's my answer to put the Islanders in Windsor..not a chance.
No NHL caliber arena.
Windsor's got the Spitfires..2 time Memorial Cup champions.




Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 3:08 pm
 

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Um, what about Hartford? That's ridiculous that they're not even mentioned because this is Hartford's one chance to get back into the NHL. The Rangers will never allow Hartford to get a team back...unless that team is the Islanders because that would give the Rangers all of New York City to themselves. Hartford could do it if they only had to pay the Bruins.

Really, Hartford has to decide now if it wants the NHL back or not. If they ever want the Whalers to return, they have to go all-in on this and get a new arena approved and built by 2015. If they don't, the NHL will never return to Connecticut.


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