Nassau County Exec Holds Out Hope Team Will Not Leave After Lease Expires

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — One day before the Nassau County Legislature debates the future of the Coliseum site CBS 2 has learned several developers are drafting proposals that imagine Long Island’s future without the Islanders.

Hockey fans in Nassau don’t like the idea of their island without the Islanders, which at one time was the greatest U.S.-based franchise in the National Hockey League and has been a source of suburban pride since 1972.

“Moving them is a big mistake,” one Long Islander told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

“I would be very upset if they left. I hope they don’t,” another added.

But some heavy hitter developers say get used to the idea. In fact, they are developing Plan B — Long Island’s future without the franchise that has won four Stanley Cup championships during its up-and-down existence.

“Make the assumption they are leaving. Their lease is up in two years,” developer Vince Polimeni said.

Polimeni is one of four developers who’ve formed a group to bid together to develop the “Hub,” the 77 acres around the Coliseum. And their plans do not depend upon the Islanders or even an arena.

“We will then pursue other teams that are out there that would maybe want to relocate to the Island, because it’s a great spot. Or not. We can just do the development that doesn’t involve the Coliseum,” Polimeni said.

However, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said don’t count the Islanders out.

“I have not given up on the Islanders. I think there is an important quality of life that comes with having a coliseum here in Nassau County,” Mangano said.

But Mangano admits time is running out. Islanders owner Charles Wang has twice lost bids to rebuild the aging Coliseum. First when officials balked at the size of his Lighthouse Project plan and then when taxpayers said no to publicly funding a new Coliseum. He’s since threatened to move the team when its lease with the Coliseum runs out following the 2014-15 season.

The county executive’s desire to keep the Islanders in the county has bipartisan support. Jay Jacobs, the state and county Democratic chairman, told Gusoff that any development that counts the Islanders out is unacceptable.

The developers Gusoff spoke to said they aren’t assuming the Islanders will leave but are planning around it.

Meanwhile, the Islanders’ owner hasn’t responded to the developers or spoken publicly since he lost the referendum, but sources said it’s a safe bet he’s shopping the team. It is widely believed cities like Quebec and Seattle are currently in the market for a club.

In addition, the Islanders recently announced they will be playing a preseason game next October at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It is believed the borough really wants to lure the franchise to Brooklyn full-time, but there are many roadblocks to that becoming reality, including the seating capacity for hockey at Barclays and a guaranteed revenue stream that would help Wang recoup much of the estimated $250 million he’s lost since taking over part- and then eventually full-ownership of the team back at the turn of the century.

Mangano is also taking proposals for a privately funded convention and expo center for the Nassau property.

What do you think will eventually happen with the Islanders? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below. …

Comments (18)
  1. KPMc says:

    “which at one time was the greatest U.S.-based franchise in the National Hockey League”

    Say What??? Says who? Based on what? The 4 Cups in early 80’s? On-Ice success was nice but that boast is a little hard to prove and I don’t think anyone outside of LI would agree with it. Certainly not people in Detroit, Chicago, Boston and oh yeah… MSG, NY!

    1. Jester69 says:

      Do you understand what “at one time” means? None of those teams you mentioned ever won 4 consecutive cups, or 19 consecutive playoff series for that matter. Take your Ranger fan glasses off…. there are only two teams that can boast a similar history of success as the islanders…. Montreal and Edmonton.

      1. KPMc says:

        So then maybe the term “winningest” (for a short period of time) would be more appropriate.

        You obviously missed the point of my post that calling them the “greatest” is very subjective and impossible to prove.

        Again… if you read my post and comprehended it you would understand that winning isn’t the only criteria for “greatest” franchise. Fan base, attendance, arena, ownership and a following further than a team’s limited local mark all can be considered. In that case… you don’t have a case.

    2. mike says:

      MSG NY they have 4 cups in how long of existence???

  2. yesfloyd2112 says:

    “Task force unveils $346.5M Coliseum plan” – article ran in Newsday on Sept 21, 2011- found at:;JSESSIONID=9F6288C3C6D1B81A9B01.3221?site=newsday&view=top_stories_item&feed:a=newsday_1min&feed:c=topstories&feed:i=1.3189037&nopaging=1

    This plan was presented by ABLI – the very same group presenting a plan today.
    What happened with their original plan? Why wasn’t it pursued further and why haven’t we heard more about it one way or the other (it’s demise or progress)?

    The 9/11/11 plan stated the following:
    “Architects, engineers, government officials and labor leaders Wednesday unveiled a $346.5 million proposal to renovate the Nassau Coliseum and turn the surrounding 77 acres into a sports-entertainment complex.”

    “Under the plan, developed by a task force of the Association for a Better Long Island , a private developer would spend $100 million to renovate and expand the existing Coliseum. The height of the arena would increase by as much as 25 feet, and there would be between 17,000 and 20,000 seats — compared with just over 16,000 now.”

    “The site would include a minor league ballpark, a parking garage with room for 6,800 cars that would join the Coliseum and the Long Island Marriott, a new indoor ice rink for practice and public use, and 70,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. West Hempstead architect Angelo Francis Corva, who designed the plan, left about 25 acres on two parcels undeveloped for a future phase.”

  3. bob says:

    Old Country Road and the Meadowbrook Parkway surrounding Roosevelt Field is a nightmare all the time. During Christmas, it is impossible to get by. So, a new Arena was squashed as well as the Lighthouse Project. Many were complaining about traffic, noise, and pollution. So someone explain to me why in the heck was the Galleria of Westbury allowed to be built on Old Country Road. The traffic over there is terrible and come Christmas time, it graduates into a nightmare during Christmas. The buidlings there are huge! The parking lot is huge!

    To let the Islanders leave is CRIMINAL! To draw up plans without the Islanders by devlopers who lost the bid is CRIMINAL. They should be brought up on charges. What’s the point of a bidding process then? Wasn’t Jay Jacobs against the referendum?

    I keep forgetting but a person said it right. The Islanders don’t just matter for Nassau County, but for all of Long Island. The Isles will either make the playoffs this year or next. When they do, they will be contenders for many years; pumping more money into Long Island’s ecomony.

    1. harry says:

      Bob, I’d love to see the behind the scenes communications between Kate Murray and the ABLI when she was stonewalling the original Lighthouse, its unbelievable how Wang met every obstacle but these developers are going to sail through this whole process to build a bunch of best buys and friendlys.

  4. Harry says:

    I’m a diehard Isanders fan and want the team to stay more than anything for selfish reasons, but regardless of the Islanders, what could possibly go up on the “hub” property that Long Island doesnt already have? Office space? You can take a 10 minute drive around almost anywhere in Nassau or Western Suffolk and find open office space that a Landlord would probably give away for a cut rate. Apartments? I doubt any apartments built would be affordable for younger people, so theyll probably be expensive housing, something Long Island has enough of. What’s the next option, more best buys and Friendlys?! That will definitely be great for Uniondale. These developers who chastised Wang for making a “land grab” seem to be doing something very silmilar. They will build whatever crap they get paid the most to do, leave it vacated, and wash their hands of it. All while us Long Islanders have to schlep to Manhattan and Brooklyn to see any kind of concert or entertainment.. But at least there will be one more place to buy a laptop.

  5. Marco says:

    Because of politics and shortsighteness, the Islanders will leave in 2015…if not sooner… sadly.

  6. TMcGRATH says:


    1. yesfloyd2112 says:

      And exactly how does that help Islander fans on Long Island , particularly those in eastern Nassau and even more so, those in Suffolk county?

    2. KPMc says:

      The Americans.. who played their last year of resistance as the Brooklyn Americans never played any games in Kings County. They practiced in Brooklyn but still played their games at MSG.

      How will it help LIers? Brooklyn is a whole lot closer than Kansas City and you can get their by public transportation.

      1. yesfloyd2112 says:

        Regardless if anyone chooses to agree or not (since that is not what is at issue), the fact of the matter is that It’s unrealistic for anyone to think it is appropriate to choose to somehow erroneously expect Islander fans who live out in Suffolk County to spend a ridiculous amount of money for public transportation to take a family to a number of Islander games during the season, on top of the already exorbitant cost of the tickets & concessions as it is. It’s not like most people have just an unending source of revenue as disposable income to just arbitrarily be expected to spend just to have to now travel even further away to see a game. The Islanders were started on Long Island and belong on Long Island. They had take on a team name that is symbolic with the Island – which, despite geographical references, most people associate with Nassau & Suffolk Counties, whereas for Brooklyn (and Queens as well for that matter) most people associate as being part of “The City”. The Islanders should remain on Long Island, be it in Uniondale, Elmont, or in Western Suffolk(near Pligrim State grounds in Edgewood (Commack/Deer Park/Brentwood area) and moving out of Nassau (or Suffolk) should not even be at the top of consideration as the next vable option but rather viewed as a last ditch plan.

        1. KPMc says:

          According to google maps..

          Distance from Hempstead to Edgewood/Brentwood: 24.4mi

          Distance from Hempstead to Barclay’s Center: 21.8mi

          Plus… there are a lot more people in this direction. I can sympathize with your hometown loyalty but you have to think of what is better for the long term health of the team. If they moved out east any further NO ONE will be at their games.

          1. yesfloyd2112 says:

            Well, driving from western Suffolk to Uniondale is shorter and a lot cheaper than having to take public transportation from Western Suffolk to Brooklyn, especially when considering having to pay round-trip train fare for a family of four (vs just one’s self).
            As far as being centrally located as well as nearer to more population density and public transportation but also serving the primary fan base (from Suffolk to Queens) that the Islanders have built over their existence in Nassau County, it would seem that the best possible place would be right where they are, or if not, then by Belmont Racetrack in Elmont or by Citifield in Queens. These would serve as more centrally located than compared to Brooklyn while yet also remaining in a more densely populated area. And either would still be easier to get to from Eastern Nassau and Suffolk County than Barclays Center is, while yet still being accessible to those in Brooklyn. Barclays Center is just as far in one direction extreme as is going in the other direction into Suffolk County.

            1. KPMc says:

              There aren’t any areas in Queens or Suffolk. There is one in downtown Brooklyn.

              Hempstead has been a grave yard for 20+ years. If you don’t think having a chance at a walk-up crowd and being able to draw from the 2.5 million people in Brooklyn is a better idea than returning to NVMC than I really can’t don’t think you can discuss things objectively.

              I have already acknowledged your hometown loyalty (which I can respect) is skewing your view, why can’t you too?

              1. yesfloyd2112 says:

                I acknowledged that there would be less population to support the islanders in Suffolk versus Nassau (or versus further west from Uniondale).
                I am not disputing the amount of population in Brooklyn nor did I mention or dispute anything about potential “walk-up” numbers.
                It is not a matter of “returning” since they haven’t left. You speak as though it were a done deal and a forgone conclusion that Brooklyn is the only viable solution. Doing so is a bit skewed I would say.
                I am merely objectively pointing out the fact of where the franchise’s fan base was primarily built upon and that, in and of itself, should be rightfully considered, and factored in and not just disregarded for the “easiest out”,” the path of least resistance”, so to speak, by just up and going to an arena just because it is built, regardless of the fact that it would seat only 16,000 for hockey games (and not 17,000 or more), not to mention that there are apparently also some sight line/viewing angle issues that have been raised as well, which are now being minimized for some reason and seemingly being glossed over & brushed under the rug, as if that is supposed to be considered trivial when in fact the contrary is true.
                Yes my loyalty is with the team- and rightfully so. As it should be. I’ve certainly invested a lot of my own money over many, many years in supporting this team, as has many other loyal fans, so that should stand for something.
                I am also objective enough to acknowledge that the owner, despite prior attempts, should, first and foremost, primarily being seeking to finance the refurbishment or rebuild of the arena in Uniondale with his own dollars (it’s not like he can’t afford to do so) while also having some reasonable combination of federal/state/county support/financing as well for development around the coliseum. Most arena/stadium/coliseum projects do in fact have some amount of public financing. It can’t work if it is going to be expected to be just only one way or the other – a fair, reasonable and viable compromise on all parties behalf will need to occur.
                Then, if once all serious and genuine possible means to attempt to do so has been explored and failed, then, and only then, should alternatives be considered such as moving over to near the Belmont racetrack or by Citifield.
                There is nothing wrong or unrealistic for anticipating for that to be the course of action.
                The fact is that what is not appropriate is for anyone, particularly politicians and developers alike, to somehow erroneously choose to think that there is nothing wrong with just casting aside where the team’s primary fan base is derived from that has provided the monetary support through ticket sales, parking fees and concessions which has allowed for them to continue to exist for all these years through thick and think, through all of the prior dysfunctional owners and management.
                Beyond this I don’t need to have to rationalize any further in order to justify my valid and legitimate contention.

        2. Steve Chong says:

          The Isles should do their best to represent all of GEOGRAPHICAL Long Island, which includes Brooklyn and Queens. The islanders future should be in the NYC limits where more people in less space can cheer for the franchise. ANY location in Brooklyn and Queens is better than Nassau and Suffolk locations. Moving the Isles to Suffolk would lead to more obscurity for the franchise.

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