Not since the 1980s have the Islanders seen a day as important as Monday. That's when the people of Long Island will take to the polls to address the issue of a new arena for the Isles.
Owner Charles Wang has been trying for a long time to secure a new place for his team to play, but this is it. He has said this is his final effort, and if the answer is no the team will pack up and move out. Nassau Coliseum just won't cut it anymore for the franchise after serving as its home for 40 seasons.
With only a few days before the vote, now is the time for the media blitz to bring attention to the effort. That's what Wang and the organization are doing for the next few days, campaigning for yes votes. The team website is having a contest for the best fan video, the above video being an example. Even the Blue Oyster Cult is pitching in.
So what exactly are the people of Long Island voting on? From the team's release:
• The plan, which includes a new arena to be constructed at the Nassau Coliseum site as well as a minor league ballpark, will generate 4,500 jobs and $403 million in profit for tax relief for Nassau County residents.
• The construction of a new sports arena, which, in part, hosts hockey season from October to April annually and a minor league ballpark stadium that hosts baseball season from April to October. This approach generates jobs and revenue year round. It is the seed of growing a sports-entertainment destination center in Nassau County.
• The new arena will also host a wide array of first-rate family shows and musical acts, including the circus and large-scale exhibitions. Other various improvements made to the surrounding area may involve the properties at Museum Row and the former Navy property near Nassau Community College.
• New revenue streams created by the new sports and entertainment complex to the tune of $1.2 billion will fill the county coffers and benefit tax payers. Islanders owner Charles Wang, in a unique partnership with the County will completely pay off the new arena, and there will be $403 million in profit for Nassau County.
It all sounds pretty good, but of course there will be taxes that will also contribute to the building. The emotional reaction of raising taxes is the biggest obstacle for the team to fight. Never mind the fact that losing the primary tenant of the arena will cause collateral damage to the area and arena, which will likely require taxes to help with the keep up and lost income.
But like any vote, it has its detractors. Local democrat majorty leader Jay Jacobs has been the biggest foe to the plan, trying to quash it. And in a rare example of when they can agree on money, Tea Party republicans are on the same side as Jacobs in opposition.
From Chris Botta at NYI Point Blank: "A Newsday poll declares that Nassau residents want the Islanders to stay, but 51 percent are against using tax dollars to fund the project. An additional 12 percent of residents are undecided."
With all that said, it's a very scary time for Islanders fans. Right now they are doing all they can to get the vote out, as even displaced fans are doing their part.
As somebody who saw his favorite NBA team relocate, it's never fun to see teams uprooted, let alone ones that have four championships to their credit. Here's hoping the Yes effort prevails.