Is it on or is it off? That’s the $64,000 question everyone is asking this morning.
A day after the Long Island Press reported Charles Wang is pulling out of the Lighthouse Project, Wang issued a statement denying the report.
“Yesterday’s report on the Lighthouse project which appeared in the Long Island Press is untrue,” Wang’s statement said. “There are no plans to abandon this project which is so vital to the future of Nassau County and Long Island as a whole.
“As far as the status of the Lighthouse project, we have submitted to The Town of Hempstead and Supervisor Kate Murray all the studies and required documents. A lease has been negotiated. Supervisor Murray and the Town Board need to make a decision on the zoning.
“Long Island stands in this defining moment waiting for an answer. Yes or no.
“Moving forward, we will not discuss any meetings in the media. Any reports of meetings should be considered untrue.
“My heart is still on Long Island. I love Long Island. This is where the Islanders belong. Let’s play hockey.”
If it was just that simple. Wang may deny it and the Long Island Press is standing by its story, so we don’t know what’s true.
Yet, the fact of the matter is that Wang doesn’t need to Lighthouse Project to make the Islanders a profitable Long Island entity. Yet, Wang and his partners have made this out to be Lighthouse or bust and if it is bust, he will take his puck and move it elsewhere.
Over the past three years, three new sports facilities have been opened in the New York area with two more on their way. None of these were built with the teams being held hostage and for the most part the new stadiums and arenas have been successful and definite upgrades over their predecessors. They were built the right way, which is why they are here now.
But when you want to make the team part of a larger project, then you will get opposition. The West Side Stadium comes to mind, as does the Atlantic Yards project, which is on its way of getting shot down in court.
Wang is in the same boat. Sure he’s got the fan support, who just don’t want to see the Islanders move. And he’s got a good villain in Kate Murray, because no one like politicians. But take a closer a look at the project and it will be clear the Lighthouse project is another money grab by rich men wanting to richer.
Where the Coliseum lies right now, there’s no Long Island Rail Road service near the area and the roads generally get really congested during the week. Do Long Islanders really want the Southern State to become more and more crowded, especially with those office buildings going up? How about building a train station? Well that would mean public money going into the project and do the commuters really want to have fares raised just so Wang can get his Lighthouse serviced?
Then there’s the shopping center. Would it really work with Roosevelt Field just a mile up the road? And how about the residential housing? Why the wealthy want to move next to a college, which is next to a bad area, rather than finding a nice place on the North Shore?
If Wang had the Islanders best interests at heart, he would have renovated the Coliseum already, since that’s already been approved. At the same time, he would have worked with the NHL, the town, and county to get concessions on the SMG contract, which is the real reason why the Islanders lose money. If a renovated arena and a favorable management deal is not enough to make the Isles profitable, then Long Island doesn’t deserve its hockey team.
Yet, it probably is. Wang has fooled everyone into believing this center is the miracle cure for the team. Build it and the Stanley Cup will come. As we have seen, smart decisions are the way to go when building a winner, not an Islanders Disneyland, that would miraculously transform the team. Yes, the Coliseum need a major renovation, no one is doubting that, but the large office building, housing and shopping center is just Wang’s way of rewarding himself by lining his pockets.
Sure Wang is a businessman and he is entitled to make money with the Islanders, but his white elephant is not it and by holding the team hostage proves that the Lighthouse is just a cash grab rather than something that will benefit the Islanders and Long Island.