It looks like I will have to be doing a series on the press and blog hype over the Mexican standoff between the Town of Hempstead and the NY Islanders/Lighthouse Project this season.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, it is mostly a load of bunk that the Isles are going anywhere. Instead of sides hashing things out in meetings, it has now found itself leaking information to reporters, editors, and various bloggers as some sort of press battle that capitulates the long suffering Islander fan in the middle of a scrum.
Today in Newsday, a report in the main section cites the SMG lease, which stipulates that the Islanders are stuck on Long Island until 2015.
This is a tremendous elephant sitting on any moving van that was conveniently ignored by the sports reporters in the last blast of rumor and innuendo over the Kansas City move hype. How Newsday ignored this a week or two ago still baffles me, but at least it is cited now.
This serves as another torpedo in the battle that is being shaped by the press and that will not end anytime soon until someone relents. This latest event will quickly be denigrated by another blog or article very quickly because it is a HUGE factor and issue in the scheme of things.
Never mind that the Lighthouse Project really needs a major sports team, which is a central linchpin to its plan. Any sale of the Islanders comes with the lease, a suffocating factor for that prospective owner.
Even if it came to Wang selling the team.
Breaking a lease might work if you have an apartment, but for a NHL team during a recession—it is restrictive, unattractive, and might be just another reason the Islanders' ownership is huffing and puffing, but really can't blow a house, or a lease, down.
The Lighthouse Project has implored itself for support to the NY Islanders' fan over the years. How will fans eventually react as more and more talk about leaving and selling comes over the wire? Or if they actually sold the team? Support would disappear. The Lighthouse Project would be doomed.
But to blame Isles' ownership is hard when the real problem to the process lately has been none other than the Town of Hempstead.
There is no doubt that the Town of Hempstead is sitting on their hands in a process that seems stuck in mud. There has been mention of opposition to the Project, but from those actually at the meetings, there has been very little.
The ToH has been trying to float many things to act like they have reason to not make a decision. Especially when Kate Murray, where the buck stops, is thinking more about her political future than as a Long Islander.
Most people in the ToH are firmly behind the project and believe in it off-the-record. The problem is that it has been politicized by an administration that doesn't want to be the one to decide on it. Especially when there are higher positions to obtain. It just might be a shining example of the worst of Long Island politics.
However, the Environmental Impact process that the ToH is overseeing is not something they made up. It is a NY State law that must be done. The issue is the Lighthouse Project/NY Islanders' ownership wants it to move faster to make Charles Wang's self-imposed breaking ground date of this summer.
Once that seemed to be a lost cause, all hell has since broken loose.
But, to move and put pressure on the ToH has been an orchestrated series of events that is starting to unravel. The NY Islanders have very little to bargain with. The Project depends on the NY Islanders and their fans. The SMG lease is constricting.
Newsday: "legal experts say the lease can't be broken by paying off the remaining years because the prohibition, written as part of the 1985 lease and upheld by a Nassau State Supreme Court justice in 1998, says the team's presence on Long Island is what's important."
Now, whoever is quoting that seems to be pushing the ToH hardline. But facts are facts, and breaking a lease of NY Isles's proportions will be hard to do. Anyone saying it will be easy is likely to push the other side in this press war.
Maybe this battle needs to happen. It just seems another foot is pressed upon the backs of already hard-pressed NY Islander fans, who have been dealing with years and years of disappointment and the kind of antics no sports fan should face.
What is clear is that this war of words will continue unabated. Look to here from this blogger to try and unspin the rhetoric.