New York Islanders Owner Regrets Purchasing Team

Kevin van Steendelaar@@LeTirEtLeButAnalyst IMay 3, 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)

New York Islanders' Owner Charles Wang has gone on record that if given the chance to buy the team again, he would not do it.

In an article published Saturday, Newsday reported that Wang has spent $208.8 million—an average of $23 million per year—to keep the team operating since 2000.

Wang also spent $74.2 million when he and Sanjay Kumar bought the club and took over responsibility for its estimated $97 million in liabilities.

The NHL's deputy commissioner, William Daly, confirmed the numbers, "Yes, we’re aware the Islanders lose money, a significant amount of money. And it goes back to the team’s need for a new arena.”

Wang, 64, said he initially assumed Nassau Coliseum would either be renovated or replaced within a few years, as part of his $3.7 billion Lighthouse Project.

The project also includes a five-star hotel, condominiums, an athletic complex featuring four ice rinks, a basketball facility, a state-of-the-art health club that will serve as the Islanders’ practice facility, a sports technology center, an open-air plaza, and a conference center.

The project has been held up and is still under review by the town of Hempstead, N.Y..

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“Never in my life would I have anticipated this thing could be dragged out for seven, eight years,” Wang told Newsday.

Wang, the co-founder of Computer Associates, bought out his partner's shares in the Islanders in 2004.

Kumar is serving a 12-year prison term for a $400 million accounting fraud scandal.

Wang grew up in Queens after immigrating from China at age eight.

He was determined to keep the franchise in New York, after acquiring it, but has threatened to move the club if the project does not go through.

"I knew going in that I was going to lose money," Wang said.

“I’m not saying I’ll move; I’m saying I’ll explore all my options.”

Wang's ownership tenure has brought an influx of controversial player trades, draft choices, managerial or coaching changes, and contract signings.

In October 2008, Forbes listed the Islanders along with the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes in their top 10 list of pro sports' franchises expected to move.

Later that month, the magazine ranked the franchise 29th on its list of the 30 teams in the league with a value of $154 million.

Wang bought the team for $188 million.

The Islanders have made the playoffs just once in the last four season and finished dead last this season.

In April, the franchise won the right to draft first overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Since then, Islanders representatives claim that their ticket sales department has seen a 300 percent increase in phone calls and e-mail inquiries over this time last year. The franchise is on pace to renew 90 percent of its season tickets.