A Tremendous Opportunity: New York Islanders, Nassau Announce Plan for New Arena

Daniel Friedman@DFriedmanNHLCorrespondent IMay 11, 2011

UNIONDALE, NY - MAY 11:  New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano announce a referendum that will build a new arena and keep the Islanders in place through 2045 during a press conference at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 11, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well Islander fans, here we go.

At this morning's press conference, County Executive Ed Mangano, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and Charles Wang announced a plan to build a "world-class" sports arena and minor league ballpark. 

There will be a county-wide referendum, on August 1, giving residents the chance to vote yes or no, regarding a 400 million dollar public investment for the project.

Mangano, Murray and Wang stressed that, if approved, the construction and operation of the new facilities would provide thousands of jobs and new economic revenue streams.

Additionally, Mangano insisted that the intentions here are "not to cost the taxpayers a single dime." Every dollar of revenue would be "dedicated back to the county." The new arena would supposedly generate more income than the cost of construction, effectively paying back the residents for their investment.

Wang also said that his commitment to Long Island has never wavered, and that the Islanders are "our team."

The bottom line is that there's a plan for a new arena and a plea to the public, asking Nassau County taxpayers to enter into a partnership with the Islanders and the local government, to make this happen.

I think there are still plenty of questions to be answered, between now and August 1, and how effectively the team and government respond will have a major impact on the outcome of this vote.

Surely, taxpayers will demand an explanation as to how Wang and Mangano can possibly guarantee that this arena will generate enough revenue to keep their end of the bargain, and, whether or not this plan would result in a tax increase.

At the end of the day, those who were previously in support of the Lighthouse Project will show the same support for this project. Those who were vehemently against it will try and bring down the new proposal, just as they did last time.

It's the neutral voters, the "swing votes," however many there are, who will make or break this deal for the New York Islanders, the Town of Hempstead, and Nassau County.

There is definitely a need for the creation of employment opportunities, not to mention the need for something, anything really, new in the area. We need to give prospective homeowners a reason to want to live here. As long as Nassau continues to live in the 20th century, people will not want to move here, and there will be people who will pick up and leave.

No one likes to see taxes increase and everyone wants to have a say in what the government does with their tax money. I understand that completely and I feel the same way.

Having said that, if I knew that, by investing my tax dollars into this project, I'd be helping my fellow Long Island residents find jobs, boosting the economy and keeping LI's only professional franchise here, I'd say that's worth every cent.

It's not like they're spending your money on a ping-pong tournament. They're spending your money on a project that will serve as a major band-aid for the current economic crisis, and that will benefit Nassau County and Long Island. 

As much as this is about the New York Islanders, you're not saying "yes" on August 1 solely for them. You're saying "yes," because this is what's best for you, because it will "revitalize our community."

I would just like to end with a statement from Charles Wang, during his press conference speech:

"We, as Long Islanders, do not have to take a backseat to anyone or anyplace." 

I implore everyone who votes to please, remember that thought.


Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter and check out NYI Faceoff Circle.

Comments are welcome.


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