Islanders Owner Charles Wang On Nassau Coliseum Vote: ‘We’re Out Of Options’
NEW YORK (WFAN) — Nassau County residents will have a shot to keep “New York” on the jerseys of the Islanders Monday, as voters get ready to head to the polls for the proposed $400 million Coliseum renovation project.
Islanders owner Charles Wang wants to get the message out there: vote “no” and the team may be forced to pack up and leave.
“I think we have to face the reality of the situation,” Wang told WFAN’s Boomer & Carton on Friday morning. “We don’t have a place to play anymore, because come 2015, our lease expires. You’ve been to the Coliseum, you guys know what it is like there. We have to have a place to play, so we’re out of options basically.
“We’re working very hard to go make this a reality for Long Island.”
The Association for a Better Long Island hopes that voters will say “no way.” Desmond Ryan, of the organization, said that if the proposal is approved it “would guarantee real property tax increases for the next thirty years and all of this because of a hockey team.”
“The office of the legislative budget review has looked at it and it will cost, at the worst case, $13.80 per household,” Wang said.
“What is ABLI? It’s a bunch of a developers who bid on the Lighthouse Project, if you remember, and lost it,” he added. “And now they’re coming back again for a second bite of it, and it doesn’t work. And if they were so interested, where is their proposal?”
Wang cautioned that if voters reject County Executive Ed Mangano’s proposal, the Coliseum “will go dark.” And not just for NHL hockey.
“The county owns the land. We’ll have great asphalt for street hockey, maybe,” said Wang. “Remember, the Islanders only represent about 30 percent of what goes on in there … all of those dollars that come now from acts, events, concerts, circuses, etc., will all be gone.”
The upcoming vote has become a heated subject of debate among Nassau County residents and politicians. Boomer Esiason wanted to know: if so many union jobs are at stake, why are democrats opposed?
“Because a republican proposed it,” said Wang. “It’s so polarized where the whole group of democrats, as a group, oppose something. They’re supposed to represent us. Except for one democrat, Dave Denenberg.”
Wang, who says he’s about $250 million in the red since acquiring the Islanders, doesn’t want to move his team. August 1 may be his best bet to stay, though even if residents approve the measure, the county legislature and NIFA still have to accept it.
“Everybody says I’m nuts, but I want to see it to a good conclusion,” he said. “We need it for Long Island. This is my home.”
Boomer, a die-hard Rangers fan, couldn’t resist taking a jab at the Islanders. As he was bidding goodbye to Wang, Boomer zinged that he always counts on “those six wins every year.”
“Oh that was a low blow!” Wang replied. “Boomer, we’ve got pictures of you in an Islanders jersey, remember that!”
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