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New Isles Arena Plan Unveiled

Bond referendum on Aug. 1 could save, or sink, Long Island's only professional sports franchise.

Eight years after he hatched the Lighthouse Project in an effort to save the New York Islanders from extinction, team owner Charles Wang has found one more card to play - and it doesn't include a casino.

Wang joined Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano at the Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday to announce a scaled-back plan that includes building a new arena next to the current, aged stadium.

The pitch also has the backing of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, whose appearance at the press conference marked a huge shift in the dynamic between the Islanders and town officials.

Murray and other Hempstead pols never warmed to the Lighthouse, which at one point included the tallest building on Long Island, a hotel, offices, residential units and a conference center.

The Islanders, Mangano and union leaders and members were in Uniondale to throw their support behind the proposal, which will only move forward if county residents approve $400 million in bonds. That vote takes place on Aug. 1.

Mangano said the Islanders would pay the county back in full through revenue earned at the new Coliseum. He added that talks with Southampton's Shinnecock Indian Nation continue, but that a Nassau County casino would be located at Belmont Park.

The referendum may very well be Long Island’s last hope to keep the franchise in the region. The team’s lease expires after the 2014-2015 season, at which point the Isles could leave, though Wang has consistently said that his goal is to keep the team in Nassau County.

"This is my home, I want to stay here," Wang said in an interview following the press conference, adding that the team would not play at the current Nassau Coliseum beyond 2015, when the Isles' lease expires.

Two other NHL teams are much closer to relocating. The Atlanta Thrashers are for sale, and according to reports, suitors could move the team to any one of three Canadian cities: Winnipeg, Quebec City or Hamilton, Ontario.

Meanwhile, the Phoenix Coyotes are owned by the NHL, which has desperately tried to find a group that would keep the team in Arizona. But if that effort fails, the Coyotes would leave the desert for Winnipeg well before 2015.

By the time that happens, the Isles may already be cashing in on new digs.

MerrickGuy June 02, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Doug, I'm obviously against it but the majority of the people I speak with both Democrats and Republicans are intending to vote No. I am going to be really surprised if it passes. I think many people have a fundamental problem with footing the bill for someone's gain.
MerrickGuy June 02, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Taxes are not the issue; what is at stake here is principal. Should public money be used for one individual's gain? Also, Nassau is not exactly in the fiscal position to issue more debt. I think there is a better solution than the one currently proposed. I think they should take this one back to the drawing board. Since Carolyn McCarthy likes getting federal money for her ridiculous earmarks in Suffolk County near her "vacation house" why doesn't she get her buddy President Obama to sent us some "stimulus" money since she hasn't done a thing for her district in the last 10 years!
monty June 02, 2011 at 07:19 PM
Nice of some people to say if you don't agree with them...then move. Actually, moving may not be such a bad idea. Let people like them end up being the only ones left, then let them pay for everything.
billy June 25, 2011 at 12:33 AM
Billy from New Rochelle,NY. Again,you people misunderstand this by not knowing the facts. Charles Wang offered to fund the development of the 'HUB'with the Lighthouse project which was far more ambitious and progressive toward job growth and expanding Nassau's tax base. Charles Wang had more to gain financially from that plan as opposed to this one.If residents vote no come Aug.1st,then they are voting no to their future.The people that are either indecisive or for the stasus quo don't really care about Nassau County simply because these people are well to do people who really only care about themselves.Please!!!For all of Nassau's fiscal problems there's an awful lot of wealthy residents living in it to begin with.The ones who vote no, the majority,will be the wealthy people of Nassau guaranteed! That just goes to show you how short sighted and selfish those people are .
Thomas Heiser July 05, 2011 at 05:49 PM
L-Town needs to go back to school and learn what profit is and what revenue is. Profit is after all expenses are taken out of your revenue/gross earnings. If the complex makes $0 you get a $58 a year tax raise. If they make what they make now it is between $15-22 for two years, READ THE PROPOSAL LAZY ONES ITS 46 PAGES AND TAKES ABOUT AND HOUR!!!!!

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