Today will be a very important day in the history of the New York Islanders. Nassau County residents will be asked to vote on a referendum, which could approve a $350-million redevelopment for a new arena for the Isles to call home. If the area votes against it, then owner Charles Wang could look elsewhere for a city looking to support a hockey franchise. There is also a chance he might sell the team, as Wang claims to have lost $230 million during the 11-year period he’s owned the team. The Islanders have rallied fans in hopes to gain support for the referendum, which may not see as large a voter turnout during the middle of the summer as it would near or during election day in November. The bottom line, however, is that a vote against these plans would not only devastate the team’s fan base, but would also deny Long Island humongous help to their residents and economy.
First of all, the amount of jobs created through this redevelopment would be enormous, and help thousands of Long Island residents. This, in turn, could really stimulate Nassau County’s economy, as well as millions in tax revenues this new project could provide. However, let’s stay away from the politics (although I don’t really see any argument against it). As a hockey fan who sees a lot of the Islanders, losing them from the tri-state area would not be fun; hopefully, tomorrow erases any possibility of this.
Over the last few years, fan turnout has not been great for the Isles; however, that comes with a struggling team. Going into this season (and for the future), they no longer look like a squad that could find themselves near the Eastern Conference’s basement. The Islanders are young and talented, and while it may take a couple more years for a playoff return, they will be exciting throughout. As they continue to improve, Nassau Coliseum (for the time being) will see better attendance figures; it would be a shame if they left like this, coming off a fourth-straight year missing the playoffs.
Look back before those four years, even. The Islanders beat (our) Devils on the last day of the season to make the playoffs, as their fans flooded the last regular season game at Continential Airlines Arena hoping they could pick up the two points they needed. After winning Game 2 in Buffalo, Nassau Coliseum was packed for their first playoff home game in three years (unfortunately, the Isles lost both games at home; fans threw anything they could grab onto the ice after the first one). The point is, the Islanders have a large group of very supportive fans; when they’re winning, it brings together all of Long Island, and if they stay here, this will surely happen again.
In conclusion, no matter where this team would move if Nassau County votes against the referendum, it would be a disgrace for the Islanders to abandon their fanbase. There is no comparison here to make to Atlanta; that was a city that offered a very small fanbase out of an extremely uninterested community. While strides could have been made to keep the Thrashers from leaving, there is nothing Atlanta could have done that would even compare to an effort Long Island could make. I am confident that the referendum will pass; the Long Island community knows how it would help economically, and, more importantly, understands the excitement that comes with a winning Isles team. Even the Devils (including Lou) and Rangers have encouraged an approval of the plan. So, from a die-hard Devils fan, who has watched exciting Devs-Isles games for years: vote yes. Keep the Islanders in Long Island; not Queens, Canada, or anywhere else.