Gallof: The Tough Truth About Islanders’ Arena Situation
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By B.D. Gallof, WFAN.com
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 CBSNewYork.com, 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
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