Everyone’s pretty well consumed with what’s going on with the Coyotes but there’s another team to get on the radar, a team whose owner has already warned the locals about his plans to get out of town (well, he’d take a look around at least) should they not work with him to improve their facilities.
Get your relocation radars prematurely locked in on the New York Islanders.
We know that Charles Wang is a loose cannon and that his trust in people is sometimes bizarre and greatly unwarranted, take a look at Rick DiPietro’s contract and Mike Milbury’s tenure on the Island for examples.
Give Wang credit where credit is due, however. He’s been battling the Town of Hempstead and more pointedly the town supervisor Kate Murray. Two of the NHL Blogosphere’s biggest Charles Wang backers are B.D. Gallof at Islanders Independent and Chris Botta at Islanders Point Blank.
Chris Botta offers the perspective of a guy who has worked for the Islanders as a PR man for Charles Wang’s operation. Botta’s name came up in the news today after it was announced the Islanders were mysteriously letting go of Corey Witt, the PR man that replaced Botta. As is mentioned over at Islanders Independent, it’s curious that Wang’s operation would do this as both Botta and Witt are perfect PR people for the organization since they’re local homegrown guys that genuinely love the Islanders.
The thought presented at II is that strange things are afoot in Long Island and none of them mean good things if you like the team where it’s currently located.
Sue me for jumping to conclusions, but this organizational change is just another indication of why I am just about convinced that the Isles will not be in NY (much less LI) very much longer. I won’t list my “indicators” here, but I have been pointing them out on Logan’s blog for about 3 months now. (No anticipated free agent signings, failure to secure or even make an honest attempt at Mr. Hobey Baker, etc etc) Greg describes Corey Witt as a lifelong, born and raised, love LI til he dies, Islander supporter. Not much different than what Chris Botta brought to the Wang Organization. Botta is gone…and now so is Witt…..Another “home grown, ties to the community, press and media relations” guy. Someone that Wang WOULD NOT want involved in certain details about the long term plans of the organization……if those plans were dark.
Now that’s the kind of tinfoil hat talk I like. No, seriously, I dig it a lot.
Aside from drumming up more of your own bad public relations, what’s the point of letting go of people with strong local ties to the Islanders and have been life-long fans? You know, the kind of person you’re ideally looking for to fill that position.
OK so Charles Wang made sure to say that if the Town of Hempstead doesn’t get something done to allow him to build his impressive and paid-for-with-his-own-money Lighthouse Project that he would begin to look for other options on where to go and whether or not he should sell the team.
And this, to me, shows that in this era when sports teams are busy yelling at locales to build them a new arena to sell luxury boxes in and getting the cities to pay for them it’s stunning to me that Charles Wang, a guy people don’t realize is solely responsible for the Islanders remaining on Long Island, is willing to plunk down his own money to build this sprawling and, honestly, incredible project in Hempstead.
Yet the town wants nothing to do with Wang’s money or development seemingly citing the lack of support the Islanders get as their reasoning for not allowing an eccentric millionaire to build what he feels the team needs to survive and help draw crowds to see the Islanders once again.
This is where I question Kate Murray and her seeming vendetta against the Islanders because what are people coming to Hempstead, New York for in the first place? If you were to believe Hempstead’s website for tourism, the Islanders are one of the main attractions.
Well then what the fuck gives?
Charles Wang isn’t a totally crazy guy and he can tell when he’s not wanted and with the Town of Hempstead continues to dick around with him, as is detailed at Islanders Point Blank:
And so it goes with the Town of Hempstead and the Lighthouse Project, the development of Tom Suozzi’s HUB that Nassau County has tried for decades to get off the ground. So it goes for the revitalization of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as set forth by a Request For Proposals by Nassau County and approved by a 16-2 margain.
Wang, who is said to be completely satisfied by the stewardship of the proposal by Suozzi and the County, has set a October 3 deadline for Town approvals for obvious reasons. The Islanders lease expires in 2015. A “transformed” Coliseum would take four off-seasons to complete. The math is simple. Wang has to decide if he’s finally done losing at least $20 million a year with no development deal in sight.
So, there’s a method to all the madness here for Charles Wang – who’dve thunk it? So much for being an eccentric millionaire if you’re not going to just haphazardly make deadlines and want to spend loads of money on something a town doesn’t even want to bother with.
So what if there’s nothing in place by Wang’s October deadline to get things started?
Just like Islander Independent said: Start lining up ownership prospects and new locations.
Sure, if Balsillie’s attempt to land the Coyotes fails (and there’s virtually no doubt in my mind that it will) he’ll make a move on the Islanders and for that, all I ask is a seat in the board room at that meeting between Balsillie and Wang.
Imagine that pow-wow. Amazing.
Outside of that, perhaps Bruce Ratner gives Charles Wang a call since the roadblocks in his development of his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn appear to be falling and construction may begin soon. Why not add another tenant to join the Nets in what would be a huge piece to revitalize Brooklyn?
Then again, maybe Wang will be thoroughly tired of dealing with being unappreciated and asinine politics in New York and just look for the first readily available green pasture that wants to have a hockey team.
I don’t know, maybe that pre-season audition they’ll get against the Los Angeles Kings in Kansas City is a nice way for the folks at AEG to shmooze it up with Wang to show him everything the Sprint Center can offer the Islanders.
I know this was all theorized before when the game was scheduled (as is proven by that TSN link) but with Hempstead’s seeming disdain for anything and everything Charles Wang tries to do perhaps he’s left with no recourse but to aggressively start looking for a new place to call home.
It’s easy to be critical of Charles Wang, he brings it upon himself quite easily by playing outside the norm and operating his team like a maniac but in his dealings with Hempstead in trying to revitalize the Nassau County Coliseum and develop the area around it and turning it into a place people will want to go to…
Well, perhaps Charles Wang is just the alchemist the Islanders need.