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ISLES WAR GETS UGLY; GULOTTA CALLS TEAM "PIGS AT THE TROUGH"
Published September 18, 1998
Nassau County Exec Thomas Gulotta called the owners of the Islanders "pigs at the trough," before NY State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Burton issued a "temporary restraining order barring the Islanders from playing home games outside the [Nassau] Coliseum," according to Thomas Frank of NEWSDAY. Following a 6 1/2 hour meeting with team officials yesterday, Gulotta called the Islanders lawsuit "nothing more than a ruse" aimed at forcing the county and arena to give the franchise more revenue from its lease. Gulotta: "They're pointing a gun at the head of the taxpayers of this county for their own financial benefit and gain." Isles attorney John Zuccotti said that the team would "obey any court order," adding: "We don't believe any judge would make us play in an unsafe arena" (NEWSDAY, 9/18). DISPUTE GROWING UGLY: Gulotta said that "99%" of yesterday's discussions with the Isles dealt with ways they could "obtain a bigger share of the financial pie," and not safety conditions at the arena. Judge Burton scheduled a hearing on the matter for next Wednesday, two days before the Isles pre-season opener (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). But Isles President David Seldin said yesterday's meeting was not solely about money: "That just wasn't the case. Safety was a significant issue in the discussion" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). Flyers Chair Ed Snider, who divested himself from SMG last December, "declined to comment specifically" on the Islanders situation, but said that the Islanders playing home games in the Spectrum while the Flyers played at the First Union Center would be "a little odd." First Union Comlex President & CEO Peter Luukko, who called the situation "bizarre," said that "if the league calls on us, we'll cooperate" (Rob Parent, ESPN.COM, 9/18).