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Bettman refuses to accept Islanders won’t get new arena

Oct 25, 2011, 12:19 PM EDT

Gary Bettman Getty Images

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman took to the airwaves this morning on New York’s WFAN and emphasized the need for the Islanders to get a new arena built.

Yes, there’s still time. But the clock is ticking.

“It’s not tomorrow, and people shouldn’t panic, and nobody is focused on what the alternative is, and frankly if they run 24 hours late, we’ll deal with that,” Bettman said, as reported by Newsday. “But the team has to have a new building and it has to be concrete plans on the horizon that’s going to get it done. Otherwise, we’re going to have a problem.”

You can listen to the interview here.

Now, it’s hardly a breaking story the Isles need a new building. Their lease at the decrepit Nassau Coliseum expires in 2015, after which it might implode like the house in Poltergeist.

Team owner Charles Wang’s most recent plan to solve the predicament was slapped down in an August referendum when Nassau voters said no to the county borrowing $400 million to build a rink.

It was a tough time for the vote to take place, Bettman says, what with the whole debt-limit debate that was threatening the future of the planet going on.

“First of all I think they had the unfortunate luck, the bad luck, of having that referendum on the Monday while Washington was dysfunctional on the budget. So the atmosphere throughout the United States was polluted for government and doing all these things,” he said.

We’ll assume Wang won’t be donating to his local Tea Party chapter anytime soon.

The good news for Isles fans is that the commissioner seems committed to finding a solution.

“I refuse to accept that this team is not going to get a new building at some point,” Bettman said.

“Charles Wang is committed to the Island, is committed to the Islanders. He’s devoted almost a decade of his life and tens of millions of dollars in pursuit of this, and fortunately there are a few years left. They’re not going to stay in the Nassau Coliseum no matter what. We’re going to need to come up with a solution somehow, somewhere.”

Hopefully that somewhere won’t be Kansas City. And, for what it’s worth, I don’t think it will be. It might be in Queens, but the NHL isn’t going to leave the New York area without a serious fight. There’s simply too much money to be made there.

  1. bcisleman - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    If you are serious, Gary, why not make a statement? Have the NHL put an All Star game or a draft at the Coliseum. The Coliseum is actually a good place to watch hockey. Even inveterate Ranger fan journalists have acknowledged that the sight lines are much better than at MSG. It needs a facelift and it deserves it. After all, itis likely the last arena on earth where a pro sports team won 4 straight championships in a row. That’s unlikely to ever happen again.

  2. Kristenaux - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    Don’t give up on him. He did it for the Penguins who were in dire need of an new arena. It wasn’t going to happen even tho’ the Igloo was the oldest arena in the NHL until 1) Gary stood up in the Igloo during a game & told Pittsburgh they should be ashamed that they weren’t building this arena then 2) he worked with Mario to make it happen.

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