Gallof: The Tough Truth About Islanders’ Arena Situation

Don't Believe Word Of Latest Internet Rumor; It's Simply Not True

By B.D. Gallof,

There have been a few rumors in Islanders Country of late in regards to the venue situation. If anyone knows about how I was engaged in New York hockey before coming to, they would know I had been very active and in the trenches over the Nassau Coliseum venue situation for several years.

Since this past Aug. 1’s failed referendum in Nassau County, it has been silent on all fronts. But as a team struggles, invariably people hear things or  rumor and innuendo just get spun out of control quickly by a hungry fan base looking for anything to look forward to.

The latest message board fan site fodder rolling around and being inflated is just that. It is about some group, including a former player who has interest in buying the team. You can’t blame the energy and excitement in the notion. Fans rightly are wishing for a resolution that leaves the Islanders in New York and settles what has been a disturbing open-ended situation that rarely features any answers.

Fans that have been aboard this roller coaster since the Lighthouse Project derailed thanks to the Town of Hempstead. Then with the silence that followed the failed referendum have fans have gotten antsy. Add in the struggles on the ice and you get a stew of concern, frustration and hopes all ripe for hearsay rumors to get blown out of proportion.

According to an Islanders source the latest rumor is “absolute nonsense.”

The fact is the value of the Islanders is at an all-time low. It would be absolutely ridiculous for Charles Wang to even entertain any offer at this juncture. The Islanders still lose, according to the source, at least $10 million per season. The money Wang sunk into the franchise cannot be recouped unless it turns into a business plan that can let him find other avenues of fiscal recourse or he will need to sell when value is at the highest, which would be by Coliseum lease end in 2015.

Anyone looking to buy the team would be waiting a while for an opportunity. Wang has zero interest in selling at a major loss. Moreover, with NeuLion, Wang is deeply entrenched with the NHL and the technology that provides live NHL and AHL games.

Hope is an easy sell these days, simply due to so many fans being uncomfortable in the uncertainty that followed the failed referendum.

To say that Long Island is in danger of being the next Atlanta, which lost its team despite NHL support, would be an understatement. The NHL’s inability to prevent Thrashers ownership from selling to the highest bidder in Winnipeg leaves its words that it wishes the Islanders to remain on Long Island ultimately ineffective and empty.

The cut and dry reality that has come since Aug. 1 is this:

1: Either Nassau County or New York State will come up with something that gets an arena built. If so, it will Wang a viable business plan that makes him some money back, and gives him a reason to hold onto a team that has lost millions upon millions on his watch.

2: He will auction to the highest external bidder.

As bleak as that seems, it’s really that simple.

Whether Nassau or even the state, both of whom are vying for casino additions to Belmont or Aqueduct, respectively, can put something in play that gives Islanders fans some closure by keeping the team nearby remains unclear.

Currently, per a well-placed source with knowledge of the Nassau County situation, there has been no movement or plans since Aug. 1, so I wouldn’t quite hold my breath there.

The only thing that CAN have some effect on the county and even the state is if the Islanders become a playoff team. However, with another season shooting towards draft lottery position instead of a playoff berth, that time is running out fast.

Read more columns by B.D. Gallof

Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

  • Massapequa Mike

    The solution is as simple as it is obvious: Nassau County should fully subsidize both the team and the arena, and then bill the subsidy to New York City. We’re the REAL New Yorkers, and the best way to prove it is to make the City pay our bills.

  • mike

    i heard something a while back that they were looking at 2 sites in queens and i personal think these are the best options for the the other areas where they were saying it may go do not look as viable. the other spot i think is a good idea is near the new casino . they want to make a big convestion center there so why not

  • MikeBossy

    My Understanding is the Islanders have a good TV deal that they cannot get anywhere else.

    They can move to Brooklyn where there is (or will be an Arena) they are allowed to move anywhere on physically on Long Island (as I understand the terriroty rights with the Rangers) .

    They can move to Brooklyn, Keep that TV contract. Keep at least some of their fans (Easy access to LIRR) OK not all will attend, but they will also have a new fan base to sell tickets too.

    Brooklyn is the most valueable and most viable option

  • Mark Ponemon

    It is what it is…. Buying a franchise shouldn’t mean an ATM at the public’s expense. I would however, let Mr. Wang build his own arena make a deal with the county regarding land and go from there. If not well the team will have to be moved. I am an Islander fan from the Billie Hudson days but right is right. You can’t hold the public hostage to pour our tax money into a project which would return nothing back to the taxpayer. No matter how you slant the story.

  • OJ

    I also disagree that the team increases in value much over the next couple years because a new owner stepping in likely wouldn’t have anywhere to take this team. The “highest bidder” would have to discount the price of relocating the team and/or building a new arena somewhere. If the highest bidder is in fact local, there’s still no new arena. The monetary value of this team is going to remain relatively constant unless they start seeing some playoff wins, which they won’t.

    • Brian Daniel Gallof

      Sorry, it will be the opposite. the team has more value with NO lease and with other areas interested in having a team. With no lease to tie them to area, the Isles become a far bigger commodity just as Atlanta was unable to have local groups even make a dent — yet a big company north of the border made it happen.

      Thrashers situation is very apropos here.

      • OJ

        Just Bettman said that if there was even one group willing to keep the team in Atlanta, even at a major discount from what Winnipeg was offering, he would have preferred to do that. Wang probably won’t just be allowed to “sell to the highest bidder” if there are viable local options, regardless of if they are as lucrative as something may be from another Canadian group.

        • Brian Daniel Gallof

          A good point, however i think this would get into legal wrangling of an owner having to take less and can force the league into a standoff. ATL had “interested parties” but nothing with solid backing to be an approved NHL owner. Recall not only NHL voice matter, but the GMs to approve ownership. Any potential owner must show viability and the ability to negotiate a new lease on Long Island, Queens, NY area even. Not as easy as you think. Meanwhile ownership of Winnipeg has an easy time for approval showing sales and having venue in place.

          • OJ

            Ok, fair. So being that there will be no publicly funded arena, and that you feel no local buyer will be a factor come 2015 when you think Wang will sell (although I think he’d need to sell within the next year or else there wouldn’t be a building anywhere except Kansas City for the team to move to (seattle won’t have an NHL building by then and assuming Phoenix goes to Quebec City)), what is your prediction for the fate of this franchise?

            • Brian Daniel Gallof

              I am hoping that Cuomo/State starts taking an active interest. Cuomo can play hero to LI fans here…and since they are also trying to get casino in Queens and Nassau County is completely hamstrung by NIFA… so whatever they want must go thru a lot of legal issues.

              Also possible is Queens/Suffolk as options IF there was to be another owner who wanted to ante up OR who could give Wang guarantees and development rights so it remains in his best interest to remain owner.

              Also, since there are 3+ years still, there is time for Isles to turn corner, stars to develop, and for it to become a far bigger issue and story… which might push those in power to give Wang what he wants.

              My point was just to give a blog that lays out the reality here that chances are no buying or selling will be happening for a while and we all just need to strap ourselves in for the long haul. Far too early.

              • Mike

                Cuomo and his announcement of billions available for economic devlopment in NYS was announced last month. No one, not the Town of Hempstead nor the County Executive submitted a plan for the Coliseum land. Then a official said that the Coliseum land wasn’t priority one. I’m sorry but this is all B.S. Cuomo, the Town, and County Executive want the Isles to leave. No one wanted to pay the increase in taxes if the referendum passed. So what do these same people expect to happen if the Coliseum closes? Taxes going down?

                Why don’ they just build a arena with some restaurants. Also, the Town machine needs to be thrown out of office. She all the lawyers etc are her friends. Wasn’t the economic impact lawyer her friend? To get something done on LI requires so much red tape!

  • OJ

    Well Neulion is losing money apparently. Chris Botta said just yesterday that there are multiple local groups interested in the Islanders and likely willing to pay for an arena refurb, although it is true that the team is not for sale right now. Is the team really going to be worth so much more in 3 years that it is worth holding on to despite the supposed “major losses” Wang sustains every year? If he’s losing $20 million a year, then he’d need to sell the team for $80 million more then than he would today just to recoup the losses…

    • Brian Daniel Gallof

      The team will be worth a lot more with no lease tying them to the Coliseum in 2015. Seattle’s Paul Allen might be looking to own a team as well as Quebec. Both areas and money willing to be paid is exponentially more than what local businesses would pay. Remember that the County is hamstrung and the Town of Hempstead will only allow a tiny microcosm of planning to be developed on that land presently. So despite whatever local groups interest are they will have an uphill battle to convince Wang to sell early and will cease to be a player come 2015 in my opinion.

      As for the loss vs payout later, thats a fair point, but if the team is built to make playoffs in few years, which also coincides with no lease in 2015 as well, that are two valuable attributes to give Wang reason to hold onto the team.

  • Isles27

    “Fans that have been aboard this roller coaster since the Lighthouse Project derailed thanks to the Town of Hempstead.” You would think, after Jay Jacobs the leader of the Democratic party in Nassau County appeared on WFAN and ADMITTED that the LHP was TOO BIG and a scaled down version could have worked, that TOH GOP bashers like you Gallof would give it a rest already but you keep pushing the 4 BILLION DOLLAR LHP that had no chance of ever getting completed especially in this economy. Enough with the pipe dream LHP already. Wang has been a terrible owner. He has stuck his nose where it doesn’t belong, he hired his backup goalie as GM and allowed him to give jobs to his buddies who quite frankly suck. This organization needs to be cleaned out from the owner on down and please no more personnel with Boston accents I think we have the market cornered on that.

    • Brian Daniel Gallof

      TOH derailed the LHP by never voting on it. This fact is undeniable. So is the fact that the many in the GOP of LI wanted the LHP, despite the Mondello/D’amato attempt to deepsix it. Approving a smaller scale project simply avoided them actually voting denying the LHP as-is.

      As someone who went to the GOP incubator speaking with many who were supportive up it, it is on the ToH and the top GOP brass for pushing out the LHP.

      Dems tanking the referendum is harder to prove since the people voted and that vote was a far cry to what GOP wanted. Furthermore, fact remains that NIFA would have likely deepsixed it after anyway. Thats the other issue very often ignored. It was never going to be approved, even if the people voted it UNLESS Cuomo got involved.

      • Isles27

        You didn’t respond to the FACT that Jay Jacobs went on WFAN and said the LHP was too big, and I also believe that the GOP council members pretty much agreed that it was too big. You also leave out the fact that Scuozzi strung this along for years until him and his party got their palms greased then all of a sudden they wanted it done yesterday and rushed the TOH. The Dems spent money to scare people saying their taxes would go up if this passed you forgot about that? I wish the Dems would scare people the same way when it is time to vote on the school budgets because that is what is really killing the homeowners on LI. Wang won’t spend a few million on his team to hire a legit GM, a legit coach, and to improve the players you think he had 4 BILLION dollars lined up for this over-sized pie in the sky mini city? Owners in the NHL make their money with home playoff games that’s what makes or brakes them, how many home playoff games have the Isles played under Wang? The Bruins probably played more home playoff games last season then the Isles have played under 12 YEARS of Wang, and the fans should feel sorry for him? Please. Rumors have been going around for a while that there are local people interested in buying the team, hopefully someone does and completely cleans house because we are going no where under Wang.

        • Brian Daniel Gallof

          I am not going to go through a whole litany just b/c you are an overly sensitive republican. sorry. move on if you want “equal time” b/c you can’t get past politics for a blog.

          • Isles27

            That’s your response when someone disagrees with you, “move on”? Hahahaha. Maybe you should put a disclaimer up “Only posts that agree with me allowed”. I’m not overly sensitive I’m just calling you out for not giving all the facts just the ones to make your side look good. I happen to live in the TOH so I know what went on. Your a far lefty, all one has to do is read your tweets to realize that, and you feel you shouldn’t be challenged. Typical. Sorry but the head of YOUR PARTY said on the radio that the LHP was TOO BIG. That’s a FACT. Deal with it Gallof.

  • JCnyy

    Wang has basically thrown his hands up in the air and said what do you want from me. Things are not looking good.

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