New York Votes No On Islanders, Relocation Possible.
(New York)–Nassau County voters, who pay among the highest local taxes in the nation, handily defeated a contentious proposal on Monday to spend $400 million to overhaul the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the outdated home of the New York Islanders hockey club.
With 82 percent of the ballots counted late Monday, the vote was about 57 percent to 43 percent against borrowing the money through a general obligation bond to pay for the plan, which also called for construction of a minor-league baseball park and convention space. The results marked an enormous defeat for Charles E. Wang, the owner of the Islanders, who had sought a new or refurbished arena for nearly a decade.
“I have to tell you I’m disappointed, and to put it very bluntly, I’m heartbroken,” Mr. Wang said. He said he would not discuss his next move.
Mr. Wang could sell or move the National Hockey League team, which began play in 1972, the year the Nassau Coliseum opened. Mr. Wang, who has owned the Islanders since 2001, had said construction would begin next June. The Islanders’ lease with the Coliseum expires in 2015. He said after the defeat, “We will honor our lease.”
I have to say that I am quite disappointed by this vote. Rumors are swirling around now that the New York Islanders could relocate to a new city. Leading candidates are Quebec City, Kansas City, and Seattle. Gary Bettman can’t let this happen. You want to move Atlanta, or Florida, or some other loser franchise…fine. The rule, as I have always understood it, is that if you have won a Stanley Cup you can’t be relocated. Sorry, but that’s the rule. So figure out a way to get a stadium deal done or move the team to Brooklyn because the Islanders need a new home and that home needs to be in New York. If Bettman can keep the Coyotes in Phoenix, then he can keep the Islanders in NYC.
PS: I really like what the Islanders have cooking on the ice. They have a nice young nucleus with Okposo, Tavares, Moulson, and Grabner. They are my dark horse team to crack the top 8 in the east this year. Maybe some on-ice success will drive up public support to keep the team in NYC.
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