Charles Wang sounds pretty pessimistic about the chances of the New York Islanders staying in Long Island; you can add Queens and Brooklyn to the list of cities seeking the team.
Several months ago New York Islanders owner Charles Wang said he wanted a decision on his proposed Lighthouse development, which would include the renovation of the Nassau County Memorial Coliseum. We're now into the NHL season, and no decision on the proposal has been handed down by Hempstead officials.
So let's play the part of Wang and look at the possible destinations for the Islanders should Wang pull the trigger on a move. We're not sure he will; he's already invested a lot in the Lighthouse development, and given his patience to date we're guessing he'll wait and see what happens before deciding on a move of the team.
We'd have to put Brooklyn on the top of the list if we're handicapping candidates should Wang move the team. Developer Bruce Ratner and crew have already expressed adding the Islanders as a tenant for their new Atlantic Yards arena, reuniting the Islanders with the New Jersey Nets, their former co-tenant on Long Island. The move would keep the Islanders in New York City and preserve rivalries with the Devils and Rangers.
Next up: Kansas City. Though it's a much smaller market, the Islanders would have the market to themselves in the winter season and be able to demand a pretty decent lease from AEG, which manages Sprint Center. AEG has a vested interested in bringing in an NHL team: the terms of its management deal changes with the addition of a sports tenant.
Long shot: Queens. Some in the city want to see a new arena next to Citi Field, home of the New York Mets. There's little appetite in New York City and Queens to publicly subsidize a new arena; the better bet may be to talk Wang into doing some sort of large-scale development (a la Lighthouse) in Willets Point rather than Long Island.
Longer shot: suburban Toronto. The NHL clearly is interested in putting a team in suburban Toronto; the issue is the price tag: $500 million before a player is signed and an arena is built. The NHL has fought tooth and nail to keep Jim Balsillie from moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton; you can bet they would not like to see Wang move the Islanders without a hefty relocation fee.
Longer albeit intriguing shot: Seattle. With the loss of the Seattle SuperSonics, there's a gaping hole in the market during the winter season. With an adequate facility already in place, you'd think Wang would at least explore a move into KeyArena.
Longer longer shot: Winnipeg. Yes, we know there are some passionate fans who argue the 'Peg could support an NHL team. On one level, we believe it to be true: there's no doubt MTS Centre would be sold out for years. But a modern hockey team makes much more from sponsorships and corporate support than it does from gate receipts, and there's just not a large enough corporate base in Winnipeg to support an NHL team, according to those who have performed market analyses.
Ain't gonna happen: Las Vegas. Proposals for arenas in Las Vegas are dead, dead, dead.