Despite a new-arena referendum being overwhelmingly voted down by Nassau County voters Monday, New York Islanders owner Charles Wang says he has no intention of moving the NHL franchise.
The vote, which came down 57 percent-43 percent against borrowing $400 million to fund the arena and a minor-league ballpark, certainly showed public sentiment dead set against public funding of a new facility. And with Wang saying he was not interested in funding a new arena on his own, the team would appear to be at an impasse of sorts. Nassau Coliseum is old and has limited revenue opportunities; the team’s viability owes more to a big TV contract than game-day revenues.
Here’s the full statement from Wang:
“I would like to thank all of the Nassau County residents who participated in the August 1st referendum. I am disappointed and heartbroken with the outcome. However, what I believe is every time a door closes, another one will open. I have lived on Long Island for almost 60 years and it is my home. I am not giving up on Long Island and I hope you wonâ€™t either.
The New York Islanders have a season to concentrate on with a team that is bursting with a young core of talent, sprinkled with the right mix of veterans. This combination surely will deliver excitement, entertainment and victories. Additionally, we will continue to bring the best concerts and family shows for everyone to enjoy.
The New York Islanders were born on Long Island in 1972. As we enter our 40th year, we have only two goals for the team — winning the Stanley Cup and keeping the Islanders on Long Island.”
Direct and to the point. And meaningless whether it’s the truth, a fudging of the truth or an outright lie.
No one in their right mind really expected Wang to say anything else. It’s far too late to move the team for the 2011-2012 season, and if Wang did say he was leaving he’s basically be playing the entire season as a lame duck, which would certainly depress the team’s already low drawing power. It would also kill any attempts by the Nassau County Board of Supervisors to come up with another arena-funding issue. The stupidest thing Wang could do is announce he’s moving the team.
Now, having said that, we’re not sure he does want to move the team — but we’re also guessing a more likely course of action is selling the team and letting someone else move it. The team’s lease run through the 2014-2015 season, about when a new Quebec City arena could open once funding issues are resolved.
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