SBD/28/Franchises

ISLANDERS THREATEN MOVE OFF ISLAND WITHOUT NEW DIGS

     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).
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