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Voters overwhelmingly reject new Nassau County arena

New York IslandersIn the end, it wasn’t even close: by a margin of 57 against and 43 percent for, Nassau County voters overwhelmingly rejected a bond referendum providing $350 million for a new New York Islanders arena.

The vote would have borrowed $400 million for a new arena and a $50-million minor-league ballpark. There certainly was a light turnout for the referendum, and it’s no shocker the most committed to the voting would be the citizens most opposed to raising property taxes to pay for an arena.

What comes next remains to be seen.

“Right now, I have to tell you, it’s a very emotional time and we’re not going to make any comments on any specific next steps,” Islanders owner Charles Wang told a group of employees, union leaders, county officials and media at Nassau Coliseum early Tuesday morning, according to the Islanders website.

Still, very few in hockey doubt the Islanders will be on the move unless a privately financed arena not materialize; county officials say that’s their next move, but such a financial arrangement will be iffy unless there’s some serious participation by Wang. The team’s Nassau Coliseum lease ends in 2014-15, which gives Wang plenty of time to come to a deal with a city with an existing arena (Kansas City) or wait for a new arena to be built (Quebec City). Other contenders for the team, should Wang sell or move, will probably include Las Vegas and Seattle.

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