Saturday, February 13, 2010

Guest Blog: Charles Wang's Responsibility

When I'm approached by people with something valuable to say, I do my best to accommodate them on this blog.  Today, we have a guest post from Joe Conte, a great friend of this blog (and someone who bears a striking resemblance to Frans Nielsen, for all you Isles fans).  You know Joe from the "Blow it out Your Dufflebag" incident with former State GOP Chairman Joe Mondello, and you know him most recently as the man who volunteered to captain Kristen McElroy's sinking ship in the last month of the campaign.  

Now that the Town of Hempstead has made its move and authorized its own re-zoning plan for the Nassau Coliseum property, Joe has turned his eyes to only the Islanders.  

Please understand, also, that while I completely agree with Joe's sentiments about Charles Wang, I do not necessarily share his pessimism about the recent news.  As I've said, there is an optimistic view of the news, and there is a pessimistic view.

With that, here's Joe:

Charles Wang Has One Responsibility Now: Keep the Islanders in New York
by Joe Conte

As a fervent supporter of the Lighthouse Project-and no its not because I’m an Islander fan, its because I’m 25 and will follow most of my other college educated off the Island due to a myriad issues the Lighthouse would have moved towards solving (and which Nick so eloquently lays out), I now turn my attention to my other Long Island cause célèbre, and that IS the Islanders.

Throughout Mr. Wang’s impassioned selling of the Lighthouse Project, one theme he constantly stressed was that fact that he is a Long Islander, it is his home, and his passion to build stemmed from that burning desire to give something back to the place that gave him so much.

Now that the town has seemingly wrestled the fate of the project away from the Lighthouse Group, there is another way Mr. Wang can give back to the people of Long Island-and that is committing to keep the Islanders in New York.  If he and the town can agree on a development of Nassau’s hub-great, but if not, it is on Mr. Wang to find a way to get the team to Brooklyn or Queens.

Mr. Wang owes it to Islander fans to make this commitment, and here’s why: Islanders fans, some of the most tortured in all of sports, have stuck by this team through thick and mostly thin.  And when Mr. Wang asked for us to support his Lighthouse Project, we responded with a tremendous amount of time and energy.

As it appears the team has finally turned the corner, the elephant in the room is will the Islanders be around for Long Islanders to enjoy their future success.  Well, it’s an uncertainty that shouldn’t be.  

Mr. Wang must commit to a New York home for the Islanders.  When he needed us, we were there for him, and it’s not unreasonable to expect the same. 

(Blogger's Note: You can email me if you'd like to submit your own guest blog, and I will run it if I believe it adds to the experience)

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  1. Media Alert: Kate Murray on Focus interviewed about The Lighthouse Project. Channel 10/55 WLNY 2:30PM Sunday Feb 14. Tune in keep her honest if we can. Isle5

  2. well put by joe conte. i don't know charles wang. i trust and hope he is not someone driven by spite enough to sell to non-NY interests with an 'i'll show her' move he hopes will sully kate murray's legacy.
    what worries me is what if the best offer he gets comes from hamilton or quebec or elsewhere? the man is certainly entitled to go for the best offer. i think the AY scenario is the only non-LH NY option. the willets thing is too far off and will be immersed in the same bureaucracy and nonsense but on a bigger scale as LH. i also think an end to this is coming very soon now. and it won't be surprising if we learn that an AY move had been in the works for quite some time. but once again, no outcome will be too surprising.

  3. Good read by Joe, Isle fans are the most loyal dedicated fans out there in the NHL. Wang bought the team at a desperate time and if it were not for Wang, they would have already relocated. Once you lose an NHL franchise, it is impossible to get it back. See Hartford Whalers! Wang really does not owe us anything, he has lost millions, he had to endure a painful process from the TOH, where he was pretty much extorted money, costing additional millons. He can do whatever he wants, it is his team. I would love to see this team stay in New York, however Long Island is in trouble, if 20-40 year olds are moving off the island, who will be there to support this team in the future. Bklyn would be the only logical choice at this time but really could not blame Wang for selling to a Hamilton, KC or Quebec contingent.

  4. Joe speaks for all of us Isles fans...We supported Wangs dream and we all dared to fantasize of a better future for LI with this development...Now that dream seems to be fading...As Joe says, Wang needs to take the bull by the horns and stop the dream from turning into a nightmare...Mr Wang, please save whats left of Long Islander pride and save the NY Islanders....

  5. After reading all the Tavares bashing on Pointblank makes me question the loyalty of Isles fans...I hope the fans who post on there are only a small % of flamers...If those people are the true voice of isles fans I dont know how much we deserve a team anymore...These kids will end up jumping ship as soon as they are able, for a team where the fans aren't blasting them when they were struggling as teenagers...Just sayin

  6. I really hope that the Islanders stay in NYC metro area, preferably in Brooklyn or Queens. To keep the up and coming young stars, the Isles should play in an area where high attendance is more likely and generate more cash due to more fan interest.

  7. a couple weeks ago in his state of the borough speech marty markowitz championed what atlantic yards will bring including "...maybe even a new hockey team called the brooklyn islanders." i still think he wouldn't have said that if he had no clue about anything. listening to bettman this morning on 'the fan' i got the same feeling. i have no idea how closely in touch wang is with bettman, if he's obligated at all to keep him aprised, but bettman sounded pretty dour to me. a marked change. did anyone else hear it?

  8. Good post Joe - I have come to the conclusion that the Isles are done in Uniondale. As a life long Islander fan and ex- Long Islander who (being 27yrs old now) has no shot of ever moving back to LI for reasons stated a million times in this blog, I am upset. On the other hand, it has come to the point where Charles needs to decide his next step, if he is serious about not only his ego but also the NY Islanders he needs to start looking into Queens and Brooklyn. IMO, either one of these would be a fresh new start for a team and its fans. Uniondale and the Coliseum represent nothing but failure, losing, bad attendence, etc it seems like these days. As someone hoping to move to NYC shortly the Isles in Queens/Brooklyn means i would be a season ticket holder as I have always wanted to be since I moved away from Floral Park in 1998. Kate Murray, the TOH, and the rest of the NIMBY attitude on LI has doomed the catlyst this project could have become. I say move west to WP or Brooklyn and leave this mess behind for the TOH.

  9. Good job Joe here and as the only 1 who stood up against Murray! NYI BELONG IN QUEENS OR BROOKLYN. Period. They don't belong on LI anymore. It was a fine idea for NHL hockey on LI in the 70s and 80s but since the 90s the NHL is big business that LI can't support anymore. The attendance, infrastructure and TOH politicians have proven that.

    If Wang loves the team like he say he does then he should move/sell it to QUEENS/BROOKLYN as the LI days are done. We supported him in his quest for real estate so he should return the favor and do what's best for NYI fans and the franchise as the best thing is to stay in NY where they can thrive in QUEENS or BROOKLYN!!


  10. I agree 100%. Charlie NEEDS to make one statement to islander fans. The Islanders will NOT leave the NY Metro area. But sadly he won't. He'll continue to manipulate Islander fans & hold us & the team hostage. The Isles have an exhib game in Canada, it just so happens the Province (Saschetwan I believe) has been rumored to want an NHL hockey team. Just like last year's game in KC, Charlie, will look to spook fans. Charlie is not a friend to Islander fans. Charlie's priority is not the fans or the hockey team. It's Real Estate. For all the positive things we've heard about the LHP, the bottom line is this-- Islander Hockey & Islander Fans. Who is looking out for our interests? It ain't Charlie that's for sure.

  11. I truely believe that Wang is the only reason why we are still on the Island. No one would be will to make an investment that loses hundreds of millions of dollars. I also believe that he will keep the team in NY, but if he does sell and they do relocate I will never blame him. He has done everything he could to keep this team on the Island and then some.


  12. Christian, the Isles had an iron-clad lease, they were never going anywhere. This stuff about without Charles the Isles would be gone is nonsense. Never held any water. The handwriting maybe on wall though. Save the Islanders or out of spite sell the team & have them relocate to Canada? This man has screwed a lot people in his time. This is not the first real estate development project for this guy. He's had few failed development projects & due to his personality problems made plenty of enemies along the way. What goes around comes around. All the info is out there. Charles is only a Saint to the uninformed. Research on Google it's all there. He's harmed too many people. Investors, politicians when you deal with this man expect to be treated like s**t.

  13. I never said he was a saint. All I am saying is he is the only person back in 2000 and today that would try to keep the team on the Island. The lease ends in 2015 and they could end up anywhere. Plus Seattle thought the Sonics were stucked with an Iron-clad lease. They got out of it and won a court case, so they could go to Oklahoma City.


  14. it gets interestinger and interestinger.

  15. whatever happened to scott rechler?
    just an aside.

  16. Why does the owner of the islanders need to keep a team in a place that doesnt want it?

    The "core" fanbase, like much of LI's youth, has moved on to brighter situations. He has been losing money hand and foot year over year trying to negotiate throughout it all (or at least since 2003) with a town that was unwilling to comply.

    The majority of the fanbase seems more content to be apathetic to the team's existence on the island.

    When the team makes the playoffs and loses what is left of the fans respond by chanting "we suck" as the series closes, or throwing trash on the ice.

    Why should he reward an eroding fanbase and NOT go with the best business deal possible for his own interests?

    Do fans not show upwhen the teams stinks? Yes.

    Why? Becaus it makes no business sense to them to show up.

    But now, people suddenly want charles wang to "support" the fans when it may make more financial and business sense for him to sell the team to the highest bidder?

    So what if he is seen as the O Malley of LI? He would be seen as the white horse of quebec if they were to go there.

    Just thought I would offer you guys the counter point.

  17. Biggest problem here is the constant state of flux. Even though LI is going down the toilet - the Lighthouse alone won't stop the precipitous decline - the fans will show if we're good, and they'll definitely show in better numbers than they have in recent seasons if we're adequate. The biggest problem is the constant state of mind-numbing flux. I'm probably in the top 1% of die-hards (as I'm sure most others on this board are as well), and even I've been less interested in the rebuild, and the games, because, well...I have no clue whether the Isles will exist long-term, and it seems more often than not that the focus hasn't been on hockey in almost two decades. Sure, we had the '02 series, but honestly...ever since the wild spring of '93, it's just been one roller-coaster of non-hockey crap after another. Fishsticks, Spano, Milstein, moving out of the Coliseum, salary dump w/ Palffy...and that's just what? 6-7 seasons? I'm just tired, complelely tired, of this garbage. I want to believe that we're not Seattle, or Cleveland, or Baltimore, or one of the Canadian cities that lost their teams in the last few decades. I want to think that we're still close enough to the largest media market in the world to have some say in whether the NHL thinks its good business to allow a NYC-area team to move to a much smaller market. But who the hell knows? No comments from Wang, intrangency from Hempstead and Nassau, Bettman saying the same crap over and over again, and all the while, the product suffers. Just give me hockey, damnit. A good hockey product coupled with an understanding of whether I'll be able to take my future children to a game...whether that game be in Queens, Brooklyn, or Uniondale.

  18. Anon (2/16 1:31 PM): This tired argument comes out time and time again. Where has the man held anyone hostage? I can't believe this needs to be said over and over again, but if the government isn't willing to put up any money (it isn't, and I believe it shouldn't), then the only solution is to develop the land for a new arena in this case. If you hate Charles Wang to such a degree that you would rather see the taxpayers get hosed on a new arena, I invite you to call Ed Mangano's office and see how far that gets you.

    Day1: Scott Rechler has been silent...too silent for my taste, especially since the Town of Hempstead likes and respects him. It would have made more sense to make him the frontman of the project. He's still involved, but he's being underutilized right now.

    Mike: I want to be talking about hockey as badly as you do, but from a personal perspective I can't enjoy the hockey with this hanging over my head. I truly think this is a good thing for the area, and it's meant to be a catalyst. The hope is that this good decision will lead to more good decisions and eventually move Long Island forward.

    I share the pain, and I'm writing a quick post (I hope you guys forgive me for this...I've been unbelievably busy lately).

  19. You wonder with Barclays Center (Brooklyn) groundbreaking being done on Thursday, and even though, they didn't address the issue of retrofitting the new arena to possibly accomodate the Islanders should they leave Nassau County, has the pressure been turned up on the folks in Nassau County, more specifically on Scott Rechler, to get the Lighthouse deal done?

    Don't think for one second that Bruce Ratner and company over in Brooklyn isn't watching this situation very closely because you know he is behind the scenes very interested in what happens with the Lighthouse situation.