Wang Willing To Wait Until Isles' Lease Expires To Move, But Would Be OK With Early Exit
Islanders Owner Charles Wang on Thursday said the team is "not in any discussions" about leaving Nassau Coliseum next year, according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Wang said, "It's really not in my control. We will work with whatever the county does. We are prepared to honor the lease, which is what we're doing now ... (Moving early) would be fine, but we're set with where we are and what it is is what it is. We knew this going in." Wang said he had talked to Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner about the possibility of moving the Islanders to the arena in '14, rather than '15, and it "would be nice if we could and there is maybe an opportunity." Best notes moving early would enable the Islanders to "tap into the improved revenue streams" afforded by Barclays Center, while the county "presumably would receive a payment to compensate it for allowing the team to leave" (NEWSDAY, 4/19). Wang earlier on Thursday at the SBJ/SBD Sports Facilities & Franchises Conference was pressed as to whether the opportunity would present itself to play in Brooklyn in '14-15, and he said, "I would think it would make sense to everyone, obviously" (THE DAILY).
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS: In addition to speaking on the Islanders' impending move at the conference, Wang touched on the arena deal failing in Nassau County, but succeeding in Brooklyn. He said, "(The deal) is everything 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." Wang 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." He added of 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." With regard to the relationship with the Nets organization, Wang said Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark's "group will be working with us, but they are going to be responsible for the business side. We keep the whole hockey operations." Asked whether he likes being a team owner, Wang said, "I love the hockey part of it. I love the Islanders. I don't like all the other bullshit that went with it" (THE DAILY). Wang said that there "might be an alternate third jersey that will reference the borough." But he added, "We're part of Long Island still" (NEWSDAY, 4/19).