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ISLANDERS THREATEN MOVE OFF ISLAND WITHOUT NEW DIGS
Published June 28, 1996
Without public funding for a new arena or "drastic renovations" to Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders say they will be forced to move within five years, according to this morning's NEWSDAY. Ownership reached that conclusion after losses of $12M over the past two seasons. Two prospective ownership groups also agree the team "cannot remain viable in 24-year-old Nassau Coliseum for long." Nassau County Exec Thomas Gulotta has proposed that private investment convert the Coliseum into a convention center, with a new arena and hotel complex built, but the team seeks county and state financing for a package that would include a team contribution. Islanders Co-Chair Bob Rosenthal: "It's not our style to threaten, and we have never threatened the county. We want the team to stay here, but we have made it clear to [Gulotta] that we need a new facility. ... Five years is too long for this team to really thrive." Gulotta stressed no public money would be needed under his plan. Rosenthal: "The existing template for new buildings all around the country calls for those interested, private and public to pull their groups together." The team seeks an 18-20,000 seat arena with 60-100 luxury boxes. Rosenthal: "We've called what we want 'Madison Square Garden East.' We're overdue for the county and the state and us to provide that facility" (Greg Logan, NEWSDAY, 6/28). SUITORS: NEWSDAY reports The Marquee Group, headed by former MSG President Bob Gutkoswki, is involved in talks about purchasing the team. One source involved in the talks: "Our interest would be to keep the team on Long Island, but without renovations or a new building, the team will go someplace else. The municipality has to kick in." Another group of investors that owns a minor league hockey team is also interested, with a source from that group saying the team would be worth more immediately if it were moved to Nashville (Greg Logan, NEWSDAY, 6/28).