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 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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Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:23 pm

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

BrianLion, you appear to have a very low capacity for nuance.  First, the writer never implied that there were a "handful" of counties to pick from.  Second, it was a writer's ploy to be provocative, and it worked.  Third, we must always place things in context.  Do you believe for a moment that by calling themselves the Islanders that they intended to market only to the two counties that are on Long Island that are not also in NYC?

Your first message was inane, and that's why i responded to you.  Otherwise, few are going to care about reading about this any more.

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:14 pm

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Well, Quebec has certainly been very proactive in preparing for this. There seems to be a plan in place, the Quebec fanbase really brought things to the forefront when 1,000 of them made the trek down to the Nassau Colliseum for a game. They want the Nordiques back.

Now, I'll agree that I never really know why Milwaukee doesn't get more consideration. I know Milwaukee has a minor league team, and the Wisconsin Badgers has a good program with a good following. Outside of that, I don't know much about hockey in Wisconsin.

To any Islanders' fans: What was the scenario of the vote? Was it all to be funded by Nassau County taxpayers? Was there a percentage that the Isles' owner was going to put up? Does the organization turn a profit?

About KC: They have a facility, what about a fanbase? How widespread is hockey in the area, like youth and adult leagues?

Since: Apr 23, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 12:11 pm

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Let's be real, as much as the Islanders suck it'd be a tragedy to see them move off the island. This is the team of Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Billy Smith. A true dynasty, albeit of days long passed. Even though they are far from what they were, the history remains, as does the possibility that a legendary team may one day return. A great history, or if you like a period of greatness fans can nostalgically reflect upon in hard times, is something a lot of teams lack. Winnipeg lacks it, Atlanta lacked it, Phoenix lacks it, as do the Sharks and other teams. To move them simply because of the inability to keep their home where it is would be robbing Islanders fans of their team. Snatching a team creates a lot of resentment towards the NHL, something that doesn't tend to happen when the team moves because fans don't turn out (Obvious exception of Winnipeg). 

I've been an advocate for Quebec to get a team since they left for Colorado, and I think they'd do significantly better than Winnipeg could ever do. I want to see Quebec get a team, but taking it from New York may cause more discontent amongst NHL fans in the long run than some people anticipate. 

Since: Apr 8, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:57 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

BCM . "Hey Wang its a parking lot!"  THe days of sports teams milking thier cities for tax dollars is over jsut ask the Vikings and Rays.  Piss off!

Congratulations citizens for standing up against this.
for sure i agree on that point...but as far as quebec city ..Quebec:  I am always for teams going back to Canada but that area of the country will take fans away from two of the originals, Wings and Leafs.  That wont go over well with those franchses"

i think you meant montreal not detroit..and both those franchises were just as big with Quebec in the nhl,it was a 60 cent dollar and no cap that killed soon as they have a big enough arena they will have a hate to see the isle go,i was a fan before my hometown got a team(ottawa),mike bossy n co were awsome,and my folks cottage less then a mile from billy smith in perth..but if theres no fans theres no team..i dont think another deep southern team should get a franchise..nhl happens during the nfl season...there wont be fans 3/4 of the season...seattle would be a great local,as would hamilton in my nice to get an NHL team in the greater toronto GO SENS!  

Since: Oct 19, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:34 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Houston:  Come on, stars can't fil their arena, no way people in Houston care about hockey.  Except to get out of that God awful weather.
Ain't that the truth - if the NHL season was April through October they'd pack the house on a nightly basis... unless of course they have a product similar to the Astros; then they'll just stink.

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 11:28 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Kansas City? Houston?? How much evidence do we need that Bettman has flooded the NHL with too many teams? How many bad markets can he let franchises move to? Hey, maybe try Atlanta again. Third time might be the charm. Let's say there were not teams in Carolina, Florida (America's hockey hotbed!), Columbus, Dallas, Arizona, Nashville, and three teams in California, there might be more talent to spread around and teams wouldn't be collapsing on themselves all over the place.

Since: May 11, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:49 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Houston is a bizarre choice. Kansas City sounds weird for the same reason Seattle does; Is there a hockey culture there? Brooklyn ... maybe, dunno. Why not just take the franchise where it'll be loved the most: Quebec. The could be the Quebec Baguettes. I'd totally watch that.

Since: Mar 25, 2008
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:47 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

While I agree with most of your post, I believe you're a Red Wings fan sold on the idea of moving to the Eastern Conference.  That's ok.  What's not ok, is using that as an excuse as to why Quebec doesn't deserve a franchise again.  The Wings are staying put.  End of story.

Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:25 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

BillSabres-CO, Brooklyn and Queens arent part of Long Island proper. Yes, technically they are on the geographical landmass, but they are in no poltical sense ocnsidered Long Island counties. Stubits wasnt assuming they were when he wrote the article either, otherwise why would he have broken Brooklyn out?

Thanks for the try at the correction though, but I lived on Long Island for 25 years and am well aware of politcal breakdown of the area.

Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 10:19 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

yeha, they're full of talentless clowns. That's why they had the most 20+ goal scorers on the team than any other team in the Eastern Conference. Dope.

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