New York Islanders: A Lighthouse at the End of the Tunnel?

Michael GasparinoCorrespondent IJune 15, 2009

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 26:  New York Islanders owner Charles Wang speaks during the Lighthouse Development's 180th Community Outreach Meeting at the Marriott's Hotel Grand Ballroom March 26, 2009 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

One of the many reasons I stuck with sports writing in my bygone days of journalism and resisted any attempt to make the shift to hard news was politics. I can't stand them.

The Lighthouse Project is, of course, all about politics. If it was just about a new building for Long Island's only major professional sports franchise, we'd be enjoying a New Coliseum already, with triple the luxury boxes and all the sushi, barbecue, and gourmet pizza you could eat.

So what a shock it was that soon after Charles Wang announced his October deadline to say go or no-go on the Lighthouse—and not long after Garden City attorney Kristen McElroy announced that she would run against Kate Murray for the Town of Hempstead's supervisor seat—did Murray extract her head from the sand and agree to meet in person with Wang and Nassau County supervisor Tom Suozzi about the Lighthouse.

And lo and behold, what a surprise that the three emerged from that meeting holding hands and agreeing, according to Newsday, "to work as a team to expedite approvals," and create a draft timetable for the project.

Nothing like a deadline and political reality to get something moving forward.

Suozzi has wanted a "hub" at the Coliseum site for years, and now it is finally looking like the wheels are in motion. Suozzi trumpeted the need for the project at a county planning commission meeting on June 11, where several other officials spoke out in favor of the Lighthouse.

Greg Logan's blog also noted that:

"On July 7, the Town of Hempstead is expected to vote on the draft EIS and then hold public hearings within 30 days. But one of the most important signs of progress, Wang said, came when Gov. Paterson assigned his two top aides, Tim Gilchrist and Larry Schwartz, to monitor the project. Gilchrist is a transportation expert in charge of infrastructure and stimulus funds for the administration."

So can Islanders fans finally breathe easy? Is the Lighthouse more than a 50-50 proposition?

And if all goes well on July 7—and particularly if the Islanders draft John Tavares with the No. 1 pick on June 26—will Wang finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and be willing to spend a little more money than the bare minimum to add some talent to the roster, knowing that in a few short years he will have everything he wants off the ice?

We can only hope. But after the way things have been the past nine months, at least we have some reason to believe.