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Your New York Islanders August 1 referendum primer

Jul 31, 2011, 10:53 AM EST

New York Islanders Draft Party Getty Images

As you may know, tomorrow is a big day for the future of the New York Islanders, Nassau County and the NHL overall. Voters will get the chance to vote for or against a referendum to build a new arena to eventually replace the decrepit Nassau Coliseum, which at this point seems like a mandatory measure for the team to be economically sustainable.

We already shared the fact that the Islanders’ two regional rivals shared their support for people to vote “yes” on the referendum, with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers urging fans and those indifferent to hockey to approve the deal. According to various sources, it appears that the bottom-line cost of the $400 million referendum for voters could be anywhere between $58 and $100 per household (depending on who you ask and if the referendum goes through, that is).

It’s plausible that we’ll have a little more material regarding the building tension and other facets of the referendum between now and the big Monday, August 1 voting, but here’s an extensive collection of some of the opinions and retrospectives regarding that pivotal polling.

New York Newsday’s editorial staff voiced their tentative approval for voting yes.

Nassau County is too populous, too prosperous and too proud to become a place with no significant entertainment venue and no big-time sports team. And it’s too tentatively perched between paths of progress and decline to let a crumbling Coliseum and the flight of the New York Islanders pull it into the pit.

Meanwhile, George Vecsey of the New York Times talks about some of the misgivings of people who simply might not be able to get out to vote anyway.

Life is less hopeful now since the days of Smitty and Potvin. People work two jobs, sit in traffic, suffer the Long Island Railroad, and brood about taxes and budget cuts in their school districts. Skilled workers who fix things at our house muse about moving out of state, and good luck to that. Overpriced homes sit on the market; young people rent or settle for less; the county’s finances are currently under the review of a state oversight board. Does this sound like a county that should be skittering deeper onto the thin ice of hockey finances?

Chris Botta puts together a plus/minus tally for the referendum, including this rather amusing takedown of Billy Joel.

Minus: Point Blank has learned that Billy Joel, who cashed in at the Coliseum for more than a generation, has so far decided to not be involved in the new arena issue because he was concerned about the “controversy.” In the last twenty years – unlike contemporaries such as Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Jackson Browne, Joel has not produced any new rock music. He has not taken a stand on anything except repackaging his greatest hits and making a fortune playing nostalgia concerts. Hey Piano Man, grow a pair.

Craig Custance points out that this isn’t just a big vote for the Islanders and its community, either.

This isn’t just a big vote for Islanders fans, it’s a big vote for hockey fans in Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City, Hamilton, Ont., or any other place hoping to one day lure an NHL team like Winnipeg successfully did in landing the Thrashers this year.

Forbes’ Tom Van Riper wonders if a vote for “no” would really guarantee that the team would leave while Larry Brooks brings up an interesting idea: what if the New Jersey Nets owner decides to move the Islanders to Brooklyn if the team needs to relocate?

It stands to reason that [Mikhail] Prokhorov would be interested in acquiring a hockey team that would account for 44-60 dates a season to fill the arena if Wang puts the Islanders on the market.

For a little more reading on the matter, Grantland’s Katie Baker runs down the history of the old Nassau Coliseum while Lighthouse Hockey tackles what locals should wear on Monday. Stay with PHT for information updates and more on the August 1 referendum.

  1. waldejewp - Aug 1, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    This is yet another classic example of privitizing profits and socializing risks/costs. It is the New American Socialism! If the whole thing turns out to be a flop, the owners lose nothing but the taxpayer is still on the hook. If it is a success, the owners will make millions, and the taxpayer is still on the hook. It has already been determined that any profits that would go to the county will be used for anything except the debt. Anyone who believes that there won’t be massive cost overruns and ensuing legal battles needs a reality check. The taxpayer will pick up all these costs as well. Charles Wong has graciously offered to pay the $14.2 million that this offbeat election is going to cost to run IF and Only IF the deal is approved! Isn’t that big of him! And to add insult to injury, Michael Picker, senior vice president of the Islanders, said it would be a reasonable price to pay to keep the team. Of course $400 million is a reasonable when other people have to pay it.

    I have lived in Nassau County for 65 years and have perhaps been to the colliseum 4 times. I don’t need never ending property tax increases to keep millionaire players and billionaire owners in my back yard. Let them move to Texas and if I get the urge I’ll watch them on TV.

    Your politicians and tax dollars at work to making sure the politically well connected continue to prosper no matter how bad things get for the rest of us!

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