SBD/Issue 221/Facilities & Venues

Bettman Voices Public Support For Islanders' Lighthouse Project

Bettman Appears At Town Meeting
To Support Lighthouse Project
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday appeared before the Town of Hempstead (NY) Board to "support the Islanders' Lighthouse project," according to Mark Herrmann of NEWSDAY. Bettman in previous years had been "cautious about the Lighthouse," but there was "no holding back" yesterday. Bettman said of the team's Nassau Coliseum: "This facility must be replaced because I have no doubt that the Islanders cannot and will not stay in this facility one second longer than they are legally bound to." Herrmann noted the crowd at the meeting cheered Bettman when he was introduced and "roared louder" during his comments (NEWSDAY, 8/5). Bettman: "I'm hopeful it's a new era. It appears that the project has more momentum than any other time that I can remember. And I certainly don't want to contemplate the alternative." In N.Y., Dan Martin reports yesterday's hearing on the project's environmental report "appeared to be another step forward" for Islanders Owner Charles Wang. Wang: "We're closer than we've ever been before. But we're not there yet." Wang has set an October 3 deadline to "get approval for the project, and at yesterday's hearing, he appeared to have considerable support from the politicians and most of the private citizens who spoke" (NEWSDAY, 8/5). Also in N.Y., Jeff Klein notes in addition to Bettman, a "group of politicians, labor leaders and other officials" spoke in favor of the project yesterday. Wang said of his October 3 deadline, "It wouldn't mean we've written off Long Island, but we would start investigating options in other areas" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5).

COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Islanders GM Garth Snow, who attended yesterday's meeting, said that with "salary-cap limitations and tough economic times ... the organization could greatly benefit from the appeal of a new arena." Snow: "We have to treat our organization like a small-market team. A project like this would bring a totally different dynamic to our organization. I want a state-of-the-art building that allows us to get key free agents or keep our own free agents-to-be" (NEWSDAY, 8/5). NEWSDAY's Eden Laikin reports "one after another," speakers at the hearing urged Hempstead officials to "approve the project -- and do it now." The first two hours of the hearing "appeared to continue an early-morning pro-Lighthouse rally at" Nassau Coliseum (NEWSDAY, 8/5).

GREAT DAY FOR ISLANDERS: NEWSDAY's Herrmann writes, "I went to a Hempstead Town Board meeting yesterday and a hockey game broke out. What's more, the Islanders won, big." The hearing was a "public referendum on the future of the Islanders," and the people "spoke, loudly." Herrmann: "They want the team to stay and they want it badly." Herrmann writes one should credit Wang "with having the genius to make his $4[B] proposal tied inextricably to the Islanders' future" (NEWSDAY, 8/5).

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