The people have spoken. Well, 100,000 of the almost 900,000 people who live in Nassau County have spoken. With a 56% nay vote on the referendum to borrow money for a new arena, the New York Islanders look to be as good as gone. The prospect of this team, with all of it's rich history and tradition, moving away from New York is devastating for me. The idea of not seeing the retired numbers of Potvin, Smith, Nystrom, Bossy, Trottier and Gilles hanging from the rafters as well as all the banners that they won is sickening. The idea that one of the most storied rivalries in the Islanders-Rangers may be gone is hard to fathom.
The building itself is old and delapidated and doesn't have the same charm that Shea Stadium did (I'm pretty sure most Islander fans wouldn't say, "It may be a dump, but it's our dump"). The fact that the NHL hasn't stepped in and required Nassau County (the owners of the arena) to make improvements is laughable. The main reason a new arena, in one from or another, is not being build is because of the bureaucrats in Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead. I understand that the residents of the area are already taxed to the hilt and don't want to pay for it, but there has to be a middle ground that the politicians and Charles Wang can reach to get something done.
Speaking of Charles Wang he claims to have lost $250 million since purchasing the team 11 years ago. Some of it has been from his own stupidity (see contracts for Alexei Yashin and Rick DiPietro) and some of it went to trying to develop the Lighthouse Project only to fail because of the political atmosphere on Long Island. However, his heart is in the right place. He loves Long Island and wants to keep the team there. It's time for him to consider the option of privately building a new arena on the 63 acres on which the present arena is presently standing.
How is it that the Devils can get a brand new arena in Newark and the Nets are getting a brand new arena in Brooklyn? Who paid for those? How much of it was public and how much of it was private?
This team is on the brink of something great. The core of young players are primed to make this team a perennial winner. Without a new arena it's all for nothing.