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Wang sells Isles to ex-Caps owner Ledecky

Aug 19, 2014, 1:35 PM EDT

Huge news from Long Island on Tuesday — per Newsday, Islanders owner Charles Wang has agreed to sell the team to a familiar face in NHL circles:

Ledecky is best known as the former minority owner in Washington. In 2001, he sold his 24 percent share in the team to current owner Ted Leonsis which, according to the Washington Times, would allow Ledecky to pursue buying another sports franchise:

Leonsis and Ledecky did not disclose a price for the transaction, but Ledecky, a well-known District entrepreneur, said he made a “healthy, 10-figure profit” on the $58 million he invested in May 1999.

Ledecky is now free to pursue a pro sports team of his own, as has been his long-stated ambition. He unsuccessfully sought interests in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds before purchasing the Caps from [Abe] Pollin two years ago, and last fall he came close to buying the Montreal Canadiens.

As for Wang, this move would end his lengthy, contentious ownership of the Isles. Reports have been surfacing for months about his desire to sell the team, this after the failed Lighthouse Project and mounting financial losses. The 69-year-old became part-owner of the Isles in 2000, then assumed majority control in 2004 after buying out partner Sanjay Kumar.  The team has struggled both on the ice and financially since Wang’s been aboard, making the playoffs just two times while reportedly losing an estimated $10 million per season.

As mentioned, Wang also spearheaded the now-defunct Lighthouse Project — a proposal to transform the Nassau Coliseum and surrounding area into a modern suburban locale — which was voted down in 2011, two years after Wang said he regretted buying the Isles in the first place.

“If I had the chance I wouldn’t do it again,” Wang told Newsday at the time. “Never in my life, would I have anticipated this thing [Lighthouse Project] could be dragged out for seven, eight years.”

Should the sale to Ledecky and Malkin be approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors, it’ll mark a change in ownership just one year before the Isles leave Long Island and relocate to Brooklyn, where they’ll play at the Barclays Center beginning in 2015-16.

UPDATE: The Isles have addressed and confirmed the transaction, courtesy this statement…

A group led by former Washington Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and London based investor Scott Malkin has reached a definitive agreement, subject to NHL approval, to purchase a substantial minority interest in the team. Under the terms of the agreement, Charles Wang will continue as majority shareholder and Governor of the Islanders, with the Ledecky/Malkin group transitioning to majority owner in two years.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL,” Mr. Ledecky said.

“I’m thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Mr. Wang said. “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.”

 

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