|Voters reject Islanders' stadium plan|
|Written by Denis Gorman|
|Tuesday, 02 August 2011 01:27|
A proposed plan to authorize $400 million in public funds toward a new Nassau Coliseum fails at the polls, casting the team's future on Long Island in doubt.
UNIONDALE, N.Y. — The mood in the anteroom where pictures of the four greatest nights in franchise history hung on the walls was decidedly dark. It wasn't the feeling inkoved by a funeral or a wake, more like being told there was nothing more that can be done.
Nassau County residents voted overwhelmingly against Nassau County Executive (R) Ed Mangano’s proposed plan to authorize $400 million in public funds to build a new Nassau Coliseum Monday. The Associated Press called the vote shortly before midnight with the bond trailing 57 percent to 43 percent.
“It is not an end. It is a beginning,” Mangano said in a joint press conference with Islanders owner Charles Wang. Organizational executives Garth Snow and Doug Weight also represented the Islanders.
While Mangano attempted to paint a positive picture of what undoubtedly was a blow, Wang was far more expressive with his disappointment.
“To put it bluntly I’m heartbroken,” Wang said. “I feel sound bites rule the day and not facts.”
Wang has owned the Islanders since 2000. He has spent much of the decade attempting to negotiate with Nassau County politicians to have a new building erected. Two years ago, he said publicly that his financial losses while owning the Islanders were close to $20 million a year.
Wang came out on the attack at the first day of the Islanders’ training camp last year.
“We have a lease until 2015. We’re going to be here until 2015. We pursue every option. We certainly would love to entertain whatever it is that the County or (Town of Hempstead Supervisor) Kate Murray propose; we’ll look at it. At the same time, there has been no progress,” the owner told the collected media. “We’d love to stay on Long Island. This is our home. We want to be here. The commissioner of the National Hockey League, Gary Bettman, said to me one time (that) ‘The biggest asset you have is an expiring lease.’ I said, ‘OK, I understand.’ ”
This is the second arena plan that has failed. The Lighthouse Project died when County Republicans would not support Wang’s Urban Renewal-esque plan in which he and private developers would build a new arena, apartment buildings, offices, shopping and dining establishments.
Mangano’s vision for what he called “Nassau’s Hub” included a convention center and a minor league baseball stadium along with a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena. He believed that it would “hold the line” on property taxes; create jobs in a county that has 6.3 percent unemployment; and begin building a revenue stream.
Opponents and County Democrats questioned whether Mangano’s plan would raise property taxes. Nassau County is one of the most heavily taxed counties in the nation. Mangano and Wang did not take reporters’ questions while Snow only spoke of his excitement about the upcoming season. The National Hockey League did not respond to emails asking for comment.
The Islanders’ regional rivals came out in support of the referendum last week.
“The rivalry that has existed between the Rangers and Islanders for almost 40 years is one of the best in hockey and in all of sports,” Rangers general manager Glen Sather said in a statement. “The intense passion and emotion involved in these games is something we cherish and would like to see continue for generations to come. We urge Rangers fans, Islanders fans and all hockey fans in Nassau County to vote yes for the referendum on Monday, August 1.”
Lou Lamoriello, the president and general manager of the New Jersey Devils, echoed that sentiment.
“The New York Islanders are a proud organization with a championship history," he said. "Monday’s referendum vote on a new Nassau Coliseum is vital to ensuring that tradition lives on. Since opening Prudential Center in 2007, we have seen first-hand the tremendous impact that a new facility can have for our fans and the surrounding community. A world-class facility is fundamental to success in the modern sports landscape, and a necessity for both the fans and the players.
"…The Devils support the Islanders in their quest for a new arena, and urge Nassau County residents to vote yes this Monday.”
On Twitter: @HockeyPrimeTime and @DenisGorman
Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 August 2011 07:17|