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Time Running Out for Islanders in Nassau | February

Mineola, NY -- “
Time is of the essence,” that’s the message New York Islanders Senior Vice President and Alternate Governor Michael Picker tried to convey at Tuesday's Nassau Legislature Economic and Community Development and Labor meeting.

“We cannot be talking anymore about what’s, if’s, can’s, should, etcetera,” He said while addressing legislators at the Tuesday meeting. “Unfortunately at this point in time, since the Lighthouse Project was discussed in 2003, we’re at the end of that road… We have to make a decision on the Coliseum itself because the Islanders have to make a decision on their home.”

Both Picker and Deputy County Executive Rob Walker stressed the need for action and the need for a decision on the Nassau Hub’s future sooner rather than later. The Islanders lease runs out in 2015

“I would say by the end of 2012, the Islanders are going to make a decision,” Walker told legislatures. “They’re looking at their options. They have every right to and if I was the owner I’d be doing the same thing. Time is of the essence. Something’s happening in 2012. A decision has to be made by all parties involved.”

The Islanders will play an exhibition game in Brooklyn in October against the New Jersey Devils. The New York City borough has openly discussed their desire to lure the Islanders and ABC 7 confirmed that the Barclays Center has had discussions with the Islanders about moving the team there.

“The Brooklyn game is an exhibition game into a market that allows us to be the first NHL game ever to be played in Brooklyn,” Picker told Islanders Hockey Blog when asked if exhibition game was a way to test the waters. “In a brand new facility that we can expose, not only the Brooklyn community, but the surrounding community to NHL hockey.”

Though Picker did confirm that the Islanders have had discussions with several people about possible venue locations.

“We have spoken to many different people in many different locations,” he said following his address to legislatures. “About options that they have for a new venue and a home for the New York Islanders. We believe there are many options and if it requires us to look at something other than Nassau County, then we’ll do that.”

Deputy County Executive Walker did say that County Executive Ed Mangano is still committed to keeping the team in Nassau, sayin that “keeping the Islanders here is on the forefront.” Newsday reported Tuesday night that Mangano had offered Islander owner Charles Wang an exclusive window to draw up plans for a privately funded plan to redevelop the Coliseum and the 77-acre surrounding area.

However, the county and developers are exploring life without the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Monday a CBS New York article quoted Vince Polimeni of the ABLI as saying, “Make the assumption [the Islanders] are leaving. Their lease is up in two years.” Polimeni also mentioned exploring bring other teams in to replace the Islanders. Deputy County Executive Walker also addressed that briefly on Tuesday suggesting a new arena could be used for basketball or as a concert venue only. Some plans suggested development without an arena all together.

“A development at that site without the New York Islanders and a new venue is not realistic,” Picker responded when asked about such plans. “It sets us back from where we are today and I don’t even believe, what ever is suggested is developed there if it’s without the team and a new venue, it could approach what the economics are to the county and its’ workforce today.”

He added later, “we’ve seen comments about bringing teams to the area, where we know commissioner Bettman has publically stated that if the Islanders depart Long Island there will not be a new NHL team. We know from commissioner Stern that said that there’s not going to be a third New York team in the NBA. I’m not sure what teams they’re talking about or how they see an approach of development of the site without the Islanders and a new venue.”

Talks of a possible request for proposal on the site were discussed as well, but Picker said that Wang would not likely submit anything if an RFP was sent out. “If there’s an RFP we would have to evaluate that at that time, but I don’t think so,” he said. 

Deputy County Executive Walker said that the county has heard from multiple people, who want to play a hand in helping develop the Nassau Hub.

“The one good thing that has come from the referendum not passing, has been the overwhelming support from people to now have come forward and say what they would like to see built,” he said during his address at the meeting.

A group of several large developers announced plans last week for a joint proposal for the area with or without the Islanders. Though the thought may be scary to fans, Picker still seemed optimistic something will be worked out, even with people thinking about development with out the Islanders.

“That’s a decision that the county would have to make,” Picker said when asked about it. “They control the land and they will have to make a decision that when the Islanders lease expires in 2015. It’s up to them to make that decision. It’s not up to us. We’ve put forth exactly what we want and what we’re hoping and we still remain confident today that something can be worked out.”