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  • Islanders hold rally for stadium vote Print
    Latest Headlines
    Written by Denis Gorman   
    Thursday, 28 July 2011 03:52

    Nassau County will hold a referendum Monday with a new stadium at stake. Proponents, including Islanders owner Charles Wang, believe it's the team's last chance to get a new building before its current lease expires in 2015.

    The optimist would say that the sun is rising on a new era of success. The pessimist would say that that the sun is setting on Long Island’s only major professional sports franchise.

    The sun-splashed, late afternoon rally in front of the Nassau Coliseum Wednesday was either the dawning of a new day in New York Islanders' history or the beginning of the end. The rally was designed to implore fans and residents to vote for a plan that would authorize the County to begin the process to build a new Nassau Coliseum.   

    A crowd of 2,800 – consisting mostly of construction workers and Islanders fans – gathered outside the building for the rally, which had Long Island rock band Blue Oyster Cult as one of the main attractions. Islanders owner Charles Wang was in attendance along with team executives and players, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, and other Nassau County politicians and labor leaders. 

    Mangano has introduced a plan to build a “state of the art sports and entertainment” complex on the grounds that the Nassau Coliseum stands. His vision includes a convention center and a minor league baseball stadium.

    The plan would cost the County $400 million. But Mangano believes it will keep and create jobs and revenue streams in Nassau County, along with guaranteeing that the Islanders would stay on Long Island.

    “Charles has made it pretty clear that he is passionate about staying on Long Island. I don’t know how much more the guy can do to get a rink built here,” Islanders left wing Matt Moulson said about Wang. “I love it on Long Island. I love the fans here – arguably the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen. They’ve gone through a lot. It’d be a little bit of a reward for them.”

    Time is of the essence for the Islanders and the County to convince residents to vote for the new building with four days until the referendum. To that end, Mangano and his staff have spent the summer explaining the importance of the County Executive’s plan to residents.

    “It’s about voter awareness. We’re doing tele-town hall, we’ve done e-mail blasts, we’ve held dozens of meetings throughout the County in different communities. We continue to advertise our website (www.nassaucountyny.gov/hub) that has the information and we attend events like this to bring about voter awareness,” Mangano explained. “This is an important issue. It’s one that deserves consideration. We hope that residents and voters will turn out on August 1.”

    Along with the rally, the joint public relations push included interviews with WFAN radio host Mike Francesa Tuesday afternoon. Wang spoke with Francesa for over 20 minutes, a discussion that was highlighted by the Islanders’ owner’s criticism of Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs’ plan.

    Jacobs, whom Francesa spoke with prior to his one-on-one with Wang, questioned if the proposed building had to be publicly financed. Jacobs also said he could put together a private group to build a state of the art arena on the 77 acres surrounding the Coliseum in a year and a half.

    “Where’s the deal? He had 10 years (when) his party was in charge, he was running the show. He brought nothing that got completed. Where’s the deal? Bring it forward,” Mangano said when asked about Jacobs’ comments.  

    Wang’s Lighthouse Project was to be privately funded. The Project was stymied by Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray despite having been accepted by then-county executive Tom Suozzi.

    Wang believes if ground is not broken by next summer there will not be enough time to build a new arena in Uniondale by the time the Islanders’ lease expires at the Coliseum following the 2014-15 season.

    On Twitter: @HockeyPrimeTime and @DenisGorman

    Photos by Getty Images

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    Last Updated on Thursday, 28 July 2011 07:47