With the Phoenix Coyotes seemingly off the table as a potential relocation candidate, the Winnipeg puck vultures will surely pick themselves back up and take aim at another franchise (looking at you, Atlanta Thrashers). You can scratch the New York Islanders off the Winnipeg wishlist, assuming plans for a new arena pass a County-wide referendum set for August 1, 2011.
The Islanders faithful have had their collective spirits crushed before when they watched plans for the Lighthouse Project sink before their eyes. This time appears to be different, though. For starters, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray, one of the figures that helped quash the LHP, is on board with the new Nassau County “Economic Development and Job Creation Plan”. The new “state-of-the-art” arena would house the New York Islanders as well as offer multi-purpose functionality, and in addition a new minor league ballpark would be constructed in the area.
Mineola, NY – Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano was joined today by New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, and other business, community and labor leaders in announcing a major Economic Development and Job Creation Plan. This includes building a world-class sports-entertainment destination center in the heart of Nassau County including a new sports arena and a minor league ballpark. The County Executive also announced that he, along with New York State Senators Dean Skelos and Jack Martins, will pursue the construction of an Indian gaming casino at Belmont Park.
The fate of this proposed stadium plan will be put in the hands of the people with a vote scheduled be held on August 1:
Given the local economy and prior failed attempts at redevelopment, County Executive Mangano is putting the question of a new sports arena and minor league ballpark to the people. Citizens will have the opportunity to have their voices heard by deciding the fate of this Economic Development and Job Creation Plan during a County-wide public referendum on August 1, 2011. At the same time, voters will decide the fate of the New York Islanders, Long Island’s only professional sports team, who face the potential of having to leave Nassau County in 2015 when their lease expires should a new sports arena not be built. Should residents approve the measure, construction is estimated to begin in 2012, so that the new sports arena can open no later than 2015.
Fianancing for the project, it is approved in August, will come in the form of a $400 million bond sale, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement on Wednesday, Isles owner Charles Wang underlined his commitment to the Islanders and Long Island:
“It has been a long journey to get to this point and I am extremely confident that a new home for the Islanders will be built and a destination location will be achieved. Building a new home for our NY Islanders is critical to the future of Long Island and its only professional sports team. The fans deserve it, and our local economy needs it. Long Island needs an iconic structure and destination and the new arena will be just that. My commitment has never wavered. Long Island is our home and the New York Islanders are our team. I am happy to partner with County Executive Mangano and contribute a significant portion of our revenue streams to the County for the construction of the arena.”
It’s not without its share of questions, but the proposal is a positive sign for the Islanders franchise and its fans.