Nassau County is no longer home to the New York Islanders, and the Nassau Coliseum has lost its biggest tenant. The surprising announcement that the Islanders were moving to Brooklyn and the Barclays Center stunned fans and sent shock waves around Long Island and the sports community.
As of now, the Islanders are scheduled to finish out their current lease agreement at the Nassau Coliseum, but their 2015 hockey season will begin in Brooklyn.
Islanders owner Charles Wang, recognizing that many fans, especially those who live on Long Island, would be upset with the move, said, “As everyone knows, we tried very hard to keep the Islanders in their original home in Nassau County. Unfortunately, we were unable to achieve that dream.”
People are looking for a scapegoat, someone to blame for the team’s departure. I’m sad to see the Islanders leave Long Island, but let’s not start the blame game.
Remember, this past August, it was the people of Nassau County who voted down a plan to let the county borrow $400 million for a new arena. County Executive Mangano didn’t want to spend the taxpayers’ money without their permission, so there was a public referendum that allowed the people to decide the future of the Coliseum and the Islanders.
The idea of a new Coliseum, along with a minor-league baseball stadium, that would have turned the Mitchel Field area into a “Hub” of entertainment, sports, hotels, restaurants and development, wasn’t exciting enough for voters. With some of the highest tax rates in the nation, Long Islanders were concerned about approving a $400 million bond, so they voted the referendum down.
The people decided. The county executive should be commended, not blamed, for putting the decision to spend taxpayer money to a vote. Wang can’t be blamed, either; for years he tried to work out a plan, but the taxpayers and voters didn’t want to fund it.