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Charles Wang speaks his mind on Brooklyn, ownership and politicians

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang: "I wish we could trade politicians. I don't know what we'd get for them."
New York Islanders owner Charles Wang was a featured speaker during day two of the Sports Facilities and Franchise Conference in Brooklyn, and during a 30-minute one-on-one he touched on the team's relocation to Brooklyn, the frustrations of ownership and a new deal between his family-owned NeuLion and the Barclays Center. Wang: "We have a deal with Barclays to stream some of the events here by Neulion. ... They have to work through some of the rights issues, but they are going to use NeuLion infrastructure to stream some of the events."

Quick hits:

On relocating to Brooklyn, scheduled for the '15-16 season: "Hello, Brooklyn. We are very excited, as it's been something we've been working on for a long time, in terms of getting to stay in New York, getting a first-class arena and facility to play in, and everything seems to be coming together. What a facility. It goes beyond what I dreamed of having. ... We are going to be part of a whole revival, which is exciting."

On a deal failing in Nassau County failing but succeeding in Brooklyn: "[The deal] is every thing we wanted to do for Long Island. Except we failed. And Bruce Ratner, as you all know, succeeded. It's a bittersweet kind of thing because we wanted to make sure the team stayed local. It was so important, because this is where I grew up. This was my neighborhood. ... I didn't think we would fail in building it, and I really didn't think [Ratner] had that much of a chance. After all, he was on top of a rail yard. But with all his obstacles, I didn't realize our obstacles were bigger. ... As time went on, it became more and more evident that this was a great alternative."On talks with other cities: "There were offers, bona fide offers to move it. ... We made the commitment to try everything possible to stay local. It's the New York Islanders."

On keeping talks to move to Brooklyn secret: "Most people knew, actually, the night before the press conference. It was kept very, very quiet. As soon as we knew the deal was finalized, we knew we were going to have a press conference the next day."

On what pushed him make a move: "My father used to tell me, 'Go where you are loved."

On the relationship with the Nets organization: “[Nets CEO Brett Yormark] is a superstar. What he has done here to get the Nets to the point where they are, at the same time having a lineup of concerts, [has made] this a very, very exciting place. His group will be working with us, but they are going to be responsible for the business side. We keep the whole hockey operations."

On the struggles of remaining in Nassau Coliseum and why he would look at other possible sites: "You get cramps from writing the checks. We tried everything we could. It didn't work."

On his early talks with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: "One of the things that Gary told me from the very beginning, 'It's a business, but it's a little bit different. There is a steep curve.' I didn't realize how steep that curve was. There is a lot of nuance of the game and about being an owner that you have to be very careful of."

On any scenario that would have the Islanders play in Barclays Center a season earlier than planned: "It would be nice if we could. There is maybe an opportunity. But, again, government works in very strange ways at times. We are committed to fulfill our lease. All our plans would be that our first season in Brooklyn would be '15-16."
When pressed as to whether the opportunity would present itself to play only one final season in Long Island and play in Brooklyn in '14-15.: "I would think it would make sense to everyone, obviously."

On whether he likes being a team owner: "I love the hockey part of it. I love the Islanders. I don't like all the other bullshit that went with it. Is this being streamed? I don't like that stuff with it. We should hold all our officials more accountable. We really should. They come in, they don't do anything and they get re-elected. And we all nod our heads, because we know it's true. It's such a shame. I'm telling you, it's what we're going to leave our kids. We are going to leave them with the wrong message.  Because the values are wrong. We have got to hold them accountable. We hold our business people accountable. We hold our athletes accountable. We trade [players all the time]. I wish we could trade politicians. I don't know what we'd get for them."
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Related Topics:

New York Islanders, Facilities

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