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Islanders Fate To Be Decided August 1st?

The Florida Panthers open their 2011-2012 campaign against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island. Depending on what happens at the polls Nassau County on August 1st, it either be the beginning of a countdown to a new arena, or to the end of the franchise in its current location. On that date, county voters will vote on a $400 million bond referendum which would provide the money necessary to build a new rink and a minor league baseball park adjacent to the Coliseum.

The Islanders have called the building home since 1972, making it the second oldest rink the NHL. Thirty years ago, the team was collecting Stanley Cups (under the direction of then-GM Bill Torrey) the way kids collect hockey cards. Today, the lack of a modern arena dollars (with assists owner Charles Wang to Mike Milbury‘s horrible reign as GM) has left the team struggling to draw fans and running out of options. Without a new building, the consensus seems to be that the team will have little other choice but to relocate.

Fans of the relocated Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche) did their best last December to let Commissioner Gary Bettman know they’d gladly take them. Twenty-two buses took approximately 1,100 Nordiques fans to an Islanders home game on December 11 (ironically, against the now sold-and-relocated Atlanta Thrashers) to protest the fact that teams with attendance problems still have a one to call their own while they go without.

Knowing that the sharks are circling, the team has begun a ‘Vote Yes on 1′ campaign utilizing former players, celebrities with Long Island ties, and local business leaders rally citizen to their cause. In a very savvy move, they’ve chosen to emphasize the jobs/economic impact in these hard economic times in a bankrupt county. Whether or not the benefits outweigh the costs is a debate I’ll leave for folks far smarter than I on such issues. I’m just a hockey fan.

Will the measure pass? Chris Botta, who knows the Islanders better than just about anyone, seems to think so for a number of reasons. If it doesn’t pass, expect more Nordique fans on the island all winter long as relocation will probably be inevitable.

Call me sentimental, but I’d be sad as a hockey fan to see four championship banners and eight Hockey Hall of Famers have to find somewhere else to call home.

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Tags: Bill Torrey Chris Botta Florida Panthers Nassau Coliseum New York Islanders

  • hockeyiskewl

    Isles should stay and will stay. Taxpayers will see taxes go up without the arena as even now it brings in revenue so there is no reason to turn that area into a parking lot or farm. Too much disposable income on LI for them not to be successful, even with the corrupt people running things.

  • nyifancentral

    Charles Wang said Saturday that the team is staying until the final day of it’s lease regardless which is 2015.

  • nyifancentral

    It will get ugly it a vote fails for a while but the framework for an eventual deal is in place.

  • FrankRekas

    With the economy the way it is, and the lack of success that the Islanders have had, a new arena would be a very hard sell. I’m not suggesting a move as that’s no sure fire cure either.

    The team needs to get better, put together a couple winning seasons, then maybe it can work.

  • nyifancentral

    The economy is bad everywhere, if the team was not losing 600 man games a year to injury they would have won the last few years. No team can over come those kinds of injuries to that many players and it’s happened three of four years. Even AHL team lost 300 man games to injury.

  • nyifancentral

    Even the laughingstock Msg teams are getting a renovation that’s to their 1981 tax exemption. Everyone got huge taxpayer handouts here for new stadiums.

  • davidlasseter

    This curious decision on Yashin aside, the Islanders have made some pretty good moves as of late. They are building an impressive group of young forwards second only to what Edmonton is building. At some point, that is going to start paying dividends. They’ll be good soon enough.

    I agree with Chris Botta’s logic that the fact that it’s a separate referendum really favors the Isles. Were it during a regular election day, it would be in trouble I think. The fans who want team to stay will outnumber those mobilized only to vote against it.

  • nyifancentral

    What curious decision on Yashin? Gandler did his yearly update on Yashin to the Islanders, Snow responded as he usually does about any UFA and that’s it. Botta the clown made something out of nothing and got out his message against a man he has issues with in Snow.

    Don’t believe anything Botta writes until he makes James Dolan (the one who saves hundreds of millions by the Islanders relocating) the story. Dolan owns Newsday and his face in a ten second ad only hurts and does not forgive 13 years of hiding his competition which put them in this spot. Botta’s terrified of Dolan because he owns his credential at Msg and his future. Botta wrote one update on Dolan like he does Wang and the Islanders he would likely get sued.