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: May 28, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:54 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Who would want them in their city? This teams a joke and full violent, talentless clowns. They should just dissolve the team and spread the players out amongst their current talent level... in the AHL.

Since: Dec 3, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:54 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

The most obvious choice is Brooklyn.  But the next choice after that isn't even mentioned: Hartford.

Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:51 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Good luck telling someone from Brooklyn or Queens that they live on Long Island! "Watch your mouth" has been among the kinder things Brooklyn and Queens residents have told me after telling them where they are geographically.

Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:37 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

Yea, lets build a multimillion dollar facility for a team that will not compete, cant make even the league minimum salary floor, sits at the bottom of the standings year after year, and brings in a whole 8000 fans for each home game.  

"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.

As for these suggested places:

Brooklyn:  Will ahve the same problems as Jersey.  People are Rangers fans, end of story.

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.

Kansas City:  The name Chiefs is already taken.

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.

Seattle:  This might work well with league realignment.  Then you can get the wings out of that confrence

Milwaukee:  Kohl family is wealthy but they dont care about hockey.

Hamilton:  Same exact problem as Quebec City.  

Long Island:  Its over, it hasnt worked since 1983 and even then the team wasn't making much money.  It is a business you know.  When your average attendence is aroun 11,500 for the past 30 years and you tell the fans to pay up 400 million because the facility sucks, well, they responded with, no the franchise does.  The Wings have been playing at that toilet called the "Joe" Since 1979 and that dump only cost $57 million.  They still pack that place for every game to the tune of 20,000+.  So dont blame this on the city or the fans.  

Bottom line, nobody wants to watch a loser.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 9:06 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

BrianLion, you need a geography lesson, which is ironic since you cite three of the FOUR counties on Long Island.  The fourth being Kings County, (Brooklyn).  The current name of the team is the Islanders and even though two of the counties are also boroughs in NYC, they are still on Long Island.  More importantly, a huge part of the NYI fan base comes from Queens.

Before you "correct" someone, it would be a good idea for you to look up the definition of "facetious".  That's what he was being when he suggested we pick a county.  Since you chose to be literal, then it needs to be pointed out that you are wrong.

I lived in NYC for a long time and I made it to the Nassau Col. whenever the Sabres were in town.  I can attest to the earlier post that it is the worst building in the NHL - by far.  (It's a good thing that I did not have to cross a national boundry to watch my team!)

In order of probability, the places the Islanders will call home in 2015 are:
 - Brooklyn will have an NHL ready arena and NY is not going to have another brand new one built in Queens,
 - Quebec simply should have a team.
 - Milwaukee is one of the best hockey town in the country and they have both an arena and ownership candidates.
 - Kansas City has more than just an NHL-ready arena; it is attached to a casino.  I do not really agree with it, but the ready revenue stream will attract the attention of a businessperson.
The other places mentioned are not going to happen.  That includes Hamilton, unless of course, the new owner is willing to pay both the Sabres and the Maple Leafs for infringing on their territorial rights. After all, that is exactly what Toronto did when Buffalo came into the league.  It appears as though the Sabres have a legal right to claim S. Ontario has part of their market.  Another post made it clear that any talk to the contrary is illogical, at best.

Since: Dec 22, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 8:31 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

I wonder if the state can build a new house for me and my family. If not, we're outa here!!

Since: May 16, 2007
Posted on: August 2, 2011 8:30 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

A couple things Stubits, you do realize that Long Island is made up of only two counties, right? So if Nassau shot them down, that only leaves Suffolk. Not sure why you're acting as if there's a handful to choose from?

Also you've left off one of the more obvious suitors for the team which is the borough of Queens. They have been in Wang's ear for a while and want to build an arena on Willet's Point near CitiField. That's far more likely than them going ot Brooklyn given that the arena would hold fewer than 14K people when it has an NHL rink in it. 

Since: Jan 13, 2010
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:49 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

The organizers and supporters of the new team can always "pull a Colangelo" like the former Suns/Diamondbacks owner did. When the voters of AZ turned down a proposition to finance a new park (now Chase Field) Jerry went behind the voters backs and got the Maricopa County board of supervisors to impose a tax on hotels/cab fares/bus fares and a few other things and got us to pay for his park anyway. Amazing how these sports owners/mobsters can get what they want out of your pockets even when you firmly say no.

Since: Nov 1, 2006
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:44 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

First: How can they be surprised? The operation is a circus, and not in a good way. Wang has done some pretty godawful things to this once-proud franchise.

Second: Is there anyplace that wants a team that comes with Charlie Wang's ownership? If I had a decent little AHL team and the Isles came knocking, I might pretend not to be home.

I hear there's an arena open in Atlanta! That seems to fit with the vision the Isles' front office has shown in general.

Since: Aug 2, 2011
Posted on: August 2, 2011 6:37 am

Islanders arena vote fails: What now?

I suppose you'd like the Buffalo Sabres to put up a marketing wall across Lake Erie and the Niagara River, along with asking decades-old fans to relinquish their fandom just so we can keep your ridiculous, contrived notion of patriotism and team loyalty intact. A simple review of a map would show you that Buffalo sits right in the corner of New York. If Lake Erie and the Niagara River weren't there, it would, in fact, border Canada. But, alas, how dare those pesky Canadians join forces with the likes of me to form the body that is the Sabre fan community! 

And what happens when fans are displaced to say, the other country? A Minnesota native getting a job up in Winnipeg? A Vancouver native taking care of his sick grandmother in Seattle? The suggestion that Canadians should stick to their seven franchises while residents of the United States should stick to the rest is just absurd.

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