Ed Mangano and Chris Botta Give Hope, Islanders Nation Still Waits
In the last several days, Chris Botta and Ed Mangano released some comments for Islanders fans that feel that their team's stay in Nassau is in jeopardy. (Robert Kowal/Flickr)
Kate Murray's twitter comments in April did not give many Islanders fans the belief that the team would be staying in Nassau County after 2015. While there haven't been any rumblings or re-invigorated talks between Wang and Nassau County, Mangano provided a glimmer of hope when he stated:
"I remain optimistic that the parties will come together with an option that retains the Islanders, creates a new arena and provides a forum for a sports and entertainment destination in the Hub,"
Mangano's optimism for the Isles' extended stay is a very welcome notion, but is it one that is realistic?
While Mangano made it a point to illustrate that he is optimistic that a deal will come together, he also pointed out that potential developers of the 77-acre site around the Coliseum have not offered to develop the aforementioned area without public funds. Nassau County already gave the Islanders an emphatic “NO” last August when the team tried to pass a referendum that would have allowed Wang to develop the area with tax-payer support. Even though the area around the Nassau Coliseum has a tremendous amount of potential for development, it seems as though potential investors are coming to a standstill when they realize that they will have to come out-of-pocket to develop the land.
Since Nassau County currently finds itself in an economic pickle, it is not hard to see why the county's politicians do not want raise the taxes of their residents. If the public were to support the development of the 77-acre area around the Coliseum, then Nassau County would undoubtedly have to have its taxes hiked yet again. Nassau County already has some of the highest tax rates in the nation and embarking on the development of the 77-acre sea of concrete with public funds might seem ludicrous to some that have to pay sky-high property taxes to live in the county.
The development of the 77-acre site can stimulate the area and bring in massive amounts of revenue as Long Island would finally have a premier destination to visit and enjoy. Yes, taxes would be raised for several years, but the benefits could be exponential. If the area around the Nassau Coliseum were beautified, then many Long Island residents would have a reason to visit Nassau County. Areas such as Jones Beach attract people to Long Island on word of mouth alone and it would be hard to believe that a developed area around the Coliseum would not do much of the same.
On the other hand, Chris Botta might not be a familiar face with the New York Islanders anymore, but the ex-Isles employee is another individual that still believes that there is hope for the Islanders staying in Nassau County. According to Botta, the Islanders might still have a shot at staying put, as he stated:
“More on the future of the #Isles: both Nassau County and #team sources insist that the ship has not sailed when it comes to the hockey team staying where it most belongs. Charles Wang continues to prioritize completing a deal to stay in Uniondale and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano has made it his mission to retain the franchise. It's no secret the clock is ticking and the outlook bleak, but both sides want you to know there will be no sleep 'til Nassau. They might want to go 'round Murray.”
Even though the quote might be a bit jumbled at the end, the gist of the statement leads one to believe that there won't be any rest until all options in Nassau County are exhausted. Charles B. Wang is a life-long Long Islander and the last thing that he would probably want to do is sell Long Island's only professional sports franchise or move it out of the state. Mangano and Wang have been working to keep the Islanders in Nassau County, but at some point the county and its politicians must budge.
Mangano stated that there haven't been any proposals from investors to develop the land without some public funding. If this is really the case, then Nassau County should be able to realize that they will be hard-pressed to find an investor that will develop the 77 acres with private funds. Botta and Mangano seem to be optimistic that the Islanders and Nassau County can work out a deal, but it will be up to the politicians to decide if they want to play ball with Wang and the Islanders.
What Does This All Mean?
All of this talk surrounding a stay in Nassau County might not have assuaged Islanders fans, but there is still reason for hope. If Ed Mangano and Chris Botta still believe that there is a sliver of hope for the Isles staying past 2015, then all might not be lost.
Nassau County and New York need the Islanders. Even though Islanders fans might not pack the Coliseum each and every night, there is still a great hockey culture on Long Island that has not been lost. If a stay in Nassau County is indeed still in play, then all resources must be exhausted in an attempt to keep the Islanders. For now, rumblings will be rumblings, but Islanders fans must still hold out hope that the team will stay put in the near future.