(Long Island, NY) Charles Wang has tried to make changes and improvements for a while now. The owner of the New York Islanders wanted to update the current facility, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. After being rebuffed and delayed by the county he has looked into the possibility of building a new arena in Suffolk County. There are many questions but one thing is certain. The Islanders are currently playing in a facility that is very outdated and has been for some time now.
There have been other groups with proposals for the location. One of them being from the New York Mets who envision a brand new building adjacent to the current arena and a minor league baseball stadium nearby. The county will evaluate all the proposals and make a final decision. This could wind up being a long process.
Charles Wang has publicly stated that he will look to other locations if he does not win the bid at the current one. He has met with Suffolk County officials and proposed two possible locations. One being in Brentwood at the site of Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center, the other being in Selden. No one can be sure if this is just grandstanding on Wang’s part to show Nassau County that he is not afraid to move the Islanders. But who can honestly blame him if he did?
The fans of the team are the ones who will ultimately benefit from any results of this process. They will either have a refurbished or new building that will still be on Long Island. Any improvements to the current Coliseum will be welcomed. If it does have to be moved out east, the pluses will outweigh the minuses.
The 2 Suffolk locations will have to be improved as far as infrastructure goes. Public transportation will have to be addressed to make it easier for fans traveling to the games to have an option other than driving. Commercial establishments will also be added to the area surrounding the arena.
The Islanders have had limited success on the ice and the strike that ruined the 2004-2005 season did not exactly help the cause for a new or redeveloped Coliseum. The team has had trouble drawing large crowds and they are still clinging to their great history winning 4 Stanley Cups in the early 1980’s. A new building may be the better way to go for attendance reasons. Fans will come out to see a new arena. How many will come running to see a refurbished one that is housing a mediocre team is a good question.
New York may finally catch up to many other cities with new stadiums. The Mets and Yankees facilities seem ready to go and both are expected to be ready for 2009. The Ducks, Cyclones, and Staten Island Yankees all play in brand new minor league ballparks. And the Islanders may not have the only new sports facility on the island. If the group from the Mets ownership wins the bid for the Uniondale location, another minor league baseball stadium will be coming. In addition, proposals for the Yaphank land all include a 6,000 seat arena, which will become the home of the Long Island affiliate of the ABA, the Strong Island Sound.
The outcome of all of this may be very interesting. As sad as it may be, it is becoming more exciting than watching an actual Islander game.