Gallof: Islanders Have But A Glimmer Of Hope Left In Nassau County

Wang's Lieutenant Tells Mangano To Get Proposal Together Closer To 2013

By B.D. Gallof,

Back on Aug.5, I warned fans of a severe about-face within the Islanders organization starting with the owner. Charles Wang felt let down by Nassau County fans who didn’t use the clout of their will to at least get the Coliseum referendum vote in front of NIFA, the watchdog in charge of the county’s funding. This despite the fact that the vote’s timing was deliberately engineered to be advantageous to its passing.

Since that time, Wang had been silent on the issue with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who is now fielding development proposals from former competitors. This caused a Mangano administration source to tell me more than a month ago that the franchise relocating to Brooklyn was more likely because the executive had heard nothing from the Islanders.

Recently, New York Times hockey columnist and sometimes blogger Chris Botta also broached this subject with his sources and ultimately got no promises or assurances that the team would remain in Nassau.

This coincides with what I have been hearing since August, basically the types of things no Islanders fan would want to know about this franchise’s future in the location it has called home since 1972.

Interestingly enough, Islanders Senior VP Michael Picker was a surprise guest on Tuesday at a Nassau Legislature hearing. His words were that he and Mangano’s group had been in touch, and discussed the county getting something together by the end of 2012. That’s a pretty quick turnaround from the previous silence cited a month ago.

Perhaps they snapped into action when Mangano started fielding offers from other developers for the hub and surrounding areas.

I asked a source in the Mangano administration if it seemed odd that Picker and the Islanders came out of the woodwork suddenly when Newsday ran a story saying that Long Island developers were meeting with Mangano.

The response: “He shoots, he scores.”

If you are looking for a pattern here, you have to wonder if Wang, himself, is not pushing that Nassau option, but that his principles are acting on his behalf. According to an Islanders source, it is their opinion that Wang is not likely to make any statements, because he does not want to take away any negotiating power.

Instead, his interest seems to be to collect as many options as he can and bide time. If true, then finality either way is something that might not happen within this or even next year, but instead closer to the end of the lease at the Coliseum, which expires following the 2014-15 season.

The best (and most disturbing) description I was given is that Wang is basically a free agent. He and the Islanders will give everyone reason to give their best possible offer, and in the end they will make a decision that is best for them going forward. An Islanders source said the team considers Picker like Wang’s agent.

This does not necessarily mean what is best for the NHL, nor the Islanders’ fans. The same Islanders source agreed: “The best deal wins, period.”

This will remain a glaring problem unless Wang finally speaks up after having cooled off from last summer’s fiasco, and shows a willingness to bridge the divide himself, something that shouldn’t leave Islanders fans holding their breath.

So as Picker, Wang’s former head of the Lighthouse Project, pleaded Tuesday for Nassau to get a feasible plan together by the end of 2012, fans who have been following this saga have to view his overture as a road to nowhere, while others will undoubtedly be left rolling their eyes.

Meanwhile, Nassau’s political flacks still seem to be asking why doesn’t Wang just build his own venue? This is the silliest cop out of all by the county because it will be the ones losing money should the Islanders, a mere tenant at the Coliseum, leave. It only proves the fact that Nassau is in no position to fund anything, much less admit with NIFA watching and approving almost its every move, that even if the county wanted to do something, it can’t.

One can wonder or even surmise here that the Islanders want to call Mangano’s “bluff,” and get Nassau removed from the equation by pushing forward.

The biggest question that remains is what other areas are the Islanders possibly targeting outside New York? Have the Islanders’ principles also pressed on those in power in Suffolk County and Queens within the last few weeks? Who and where else are they working on to attract as another active suitor that will then give them even more choices and options? I can guarantee you more will enter this fray, especially outside of New York.

In the end, once again we are left with lots of questions, contradictions and have been forced to entrust those in the Nassau political system with getting something together. It appears Mangano does not believe the Islanders are actually serious, while the team is sitting back and seemingly playing out the string.

This is not a comforting scenario following the Lighthouse Project and Coliseum referendum vote failures. Nor should it assuage Long Island residents’ fears in any way.

The truth is nobody should be walking away from Tuesday’s meeting, which was no different than any other previous meeting and the ongoing rhetoric that has accompanied them. The only difference here is the Islanders’ threat of leaving is very real and very much an ongoing issue.

Read more columns by B.D. Gallof

Do you think the Islanders are finished in Nassau County or do you think cooler heads will prevail at the 11th hour? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

  • mg

    The best thing that Nassau can do is renovate the Coliseum. The Isles can play in Barclay’s Center while the Coliseum is being renovated. The lower cost and quicker construction would be a good compromise for Nassau taxpayers and should satisfy the Islander faithful. There is no reason to tear down a viable arena when all that is really needed is luxury boxes and upgraded amenities This would preserve the link to the history of the team. Personally, I would love to see the Islanders move to Brooklyn. I live in the city, and would certainly go to the games if I could get out to the Coliseum. Most people who live in the city don’t have cars, and there is no mass transit to the coliseum. There are plenty of ex LI’ers who are Islander fans and live in the city.The islanders would have a whole new fan base and open up a market 8 million strong. Contrary to popular belief not all NY’ers are ranger fans and Brooklyn needs/wants its own representation in the sports world..having NHL as well as NBA wood be a boon to Brooklyn & NYC and the Islanders could still be the Islanders because as everyone know (or doesn’t know) Brooklyn is part of Long Island. When you make an investment in an arena you want to maximize its usage. having the arena used only half the time minimized your profit. Another option would be for NYC to step up and present an arena plan out by Citifield. The city has plans to develop the “Iron Triangle” area next to Citifield and this would be a perfect place for an Islander arena. It has access to mass transit and highways, so City residents and LI residents can both access the games by car or mass transit. Something that would is the best of both worlds. This is something that neither Nassau coliseum (no mass transit) nor Barclay’s center (no highway access or parking)can claim. The city would benift by having a sports complex that would be active summer and winter and would compliment Citifield and the Tennis Center. Hey they built that entire tennis complex for only a two week tournament each year! I don’t think the Islanders shoudl or will move out of the area. Seattle is not viable, since there would be no revenue sharing, Wang would only rent an Arena, and would be in a situation like he is in now. Kansas City..are you kidding me? Talk about moving from a small market to a small market, what sense would that make? Hmm..Ice Hockey and BBQ..not a good combination. The Coyotes are more likely to move, I mean how many hockey fans are there in the Desert anyway? Lastly Charles Wang has demonstrated his willingness to keep the Islanders on Long Island. He has roots here, with Computer Associates in Islandia and his gifts to SUNY StonyBrook. I don’t think he wants to be remembered as the guy who took the Islanders away and destroyed a storied franchise in his home town. I don’t think he wants to be remembered as the modern Walter O’Malley.
    So please Nassau County, Mangano, Wang, Bloomberg (maybe)…get your acts together and lets keep the Islanders where they NY!

  • LetsGoIsles

    I do not want them to leave for a number of reasons and I don’t think (again, for a number of reasons) that Brooklyn is an ideal (or realistic) choice by any means (but hey, any port in a storm). I do find myself wishing the fate of the Islanders was one ALL Long Islanders could help decide – how much would that “tax” have been per household spread out over both counties? What would have happened if Suffolk residents had gotten to vote in that referendum? We’re all Islanders my foot – I didn’t get a say!! Though I do agree somewhat with the commenter who noted the low attendance. It’s definitely a factor. I sympathize with people who are so frustrated that they are not going to games, I didn’t go for a long time (because I couldn’t afford the money or frustration) but as this horrible situation with the idiots in Nassau County government continues, I feel the only true way (as a long time Suffolk resident who now lives in Queens) to express myself here is to put my butt in a seat at the Coliseum as often as I can – and phooey on everyone who says it’s a horrible building, it absolutely is not. I will not spend a dime in Nassau County unless it is somehow related to the team – either at the Coliseum, or at a business that sponsors them. Money talks and mine probably doesn’t make a difference to anyone other than me, but that’s all I can do right now. Let’s go Isles!!!!!

  • Isles fans sleep

    You are wrong when you say Islanders fans care. If they care so much, where are they? Yes, the team is boring, but they are not bad. They have a lot of young and promising talent on the way, yet no one cares enough to sellout the arena. The situation is the way it is partly because islanders fans are disgusted. However, this indifference now will turn into the Kansas City Islanders or Quebec islanders after next season. If the islanders fans a don’t speak up and hold Nassau accountable, I can easily see Wang saying screw you to the fans and vaulting early to a ready made arena and fans that care in Qubec. Nassau could come after them for breaking their lease, but that would be the mother of all hypocrisy.

    Basically the corrupt and cowardly Nassua execs and the.indifferent Islander fans have turned their owner against them. Wang sees no one coming to games, then sees his own fans reject a proposal to keep the team around for a tax that will be TRIPLED once they leave. I guess he never figured nassau residents could be so ignorant. Add in the criminals that run the legislature and you have the islanders on a fast track out of nassu. One thing is for certain…the county and e fans have created this by being so very passive and indifferent.

    If the county and fans don’t wake up, 2012-13 will be the final year for the islanders on LI. Forget the lease, cause even though Wang stated he will honor it, I think the last six months and the fact that the isles will once again miss the postseason this year, along with playing in front of a family of four every night, has changed his mind. I think he is already inquiring how he can legally get out of here as soon as next season.

  • Paul

    fyi, is “principals” not “principles”

  • Isles27

    Funny how the ABLI teamed up with Jay Jacobs(D) (the guy who called the LHP too big and said Isles season ticket holders should be taxed to pay for a new arena) in August to defeat the referendum and now they want to develop the land themselves. Where are all the cries of corruption from the usual suspects??? Mangano has no money to spend on this project, the county is broke and he has NIFA watching over his shoulders so any public money would have to come from the state (Cuomo) and the feds. Taxpayers, no matter where they live, don’t want to use public dollars to build stadiums and arenas so don’t think this just applies to the people of Nassau County.

    I still think the Isles will stay right where they are when all is said and done. The Isles have pretty much sucked for almost 20 years so to say they can’t do well here and draw fans here is ridiculous, put them anywhere else with their track record the past 20 years, and that would include being the only NHL team in cities like Chicago and Boston, and they wouldn’t be drawing there. If they were competitive, if they made a run deep into the playoffs once in a while instead of going 20 years without winning a playoff series I think they can turn a profit here. No one is without blame here, that includes both political parties and Wang, but the clock is ticking so either everyone puts their egos and self interests aside and work together to hammer something out or maybe we will be saying goodbye to the Isles in a few years.

    • Brian Daniel Gallof

      27, my man…your best post ever. hands down. well put

      • Isles27

        Somethings in the water in Freeport :)

        • Brian Daniel Gallof

          probably. it IS Freeport.

          Not sure they’ll stick around Nassau at the least, but it was a well done post.

          • Isles27

            I’m sick and tired of reading comments on these blogs that the Isles should move to the city like the people in the city would throw them a parade if they moved there. I’m willing to bet at least 90% or more of the people who live in the city couldn’t name 1 Islander. Look at all the attention the Rangers who are on top of the league right now get in the NY media. How much time is spent on 660 and 1050 discussing Ranger hockey? Where are the Rangers placed in the newspapers, how many time are they on the back page. They went from talking Giants to Knicks and soon baseball, hockey gets little coverage and these city Isles fans think the coverage of the Isles will get much better with a move, I doubt it very much. Look at the TV ratings on MSG the Knicks are pulling 3’s and 4’s while the Rangers are pulling1’s and the last time I checked the Isles averaged .23 this is going to change with a move to Bklyn not to mention the Isles will be treated like crap in that building by the Nets people.
            The Isles belong in Nassau, if these city Isles fans want convenience let them go watch the Rangers. The people in the city would have voted down this referendum also so lets not hammer the people of Nassau for voting it down. What’s Jacobs idea for keeping the Isles here besides taxing the season ticket holders? I’ve heard a lot of criticisms from Jacobs but no ideas. Nassau needs to get their act together and fast,

  • Al from CARMEL

    I don’t know why Charles Wang just doesn’t tell Queens and Suffolk to put their best proposals on the table. Give Nassau County a deadline of say August to have a plan or accept his plan or then just move on. For the people of Nassau county who voted no on August 1 and were affraid of their taxes going up 50 dollars a year, good luck when your taxes go up several hundred dollars when the team moves.When your small children want to go to see disney on ice or the circus or a concert, good luck shelling out much more then 50 dollars an event just to go to MSG or the Meadowlands. Its a total embarrassmet losing a professional sports team. If you want Wang to build his own sports arena then sell him the property.

  • Nyisles

    Why not just offer to sell him the land? Put the ball back in Wangs court. He was willing to build it as part of the lighthouse. Why not give it a go? You want to save the Islanders in nassau? What other option is there if the county is broke?

  • JDino

    Just like most Islander games nobody cares. They should move to a place where people care, and it’s not New York

    • Steve Chong

      They will generate interest in the future as they are an up and coming team. 6 points out of the final playoff spot in the East with 26 games to go. The Isles should move to Brooklyn next season on a temporary basis for a few years before building their new digs in Queens. With public funds that is.

    • Get over yourself

      Here is the problem. Just because you don’t care doesn’t mean “nobody” cares. There are plenty of Islander fans that supported them through both referendums. Unfortunately there are just more short sighted people like you that think your opinion is the end all be all.

    • Bob

      Do you live on LI JDINO? You will care when the Islanders leave and the Coliseum closes. Watch your taxes go even higher.

  • Adman

    Lets go Brooklynders ! Or Queenslanders or just stay in the NY area ! if Nassau is going to act like this than it’s there loss and they don’t deserve us !

blog comments powered by Disqus
Giving Tuesday
Charles Osgood Event

Listen Live