THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHARLIE: Both Sides Of The Lighthouse Project And Town Play The Most Dangerous Game

somethingaboutcharlie

Sources who have either dealt with Charles Wang personally or within business give a warning when following the latest goings-on between him and the Town of Hempstead. Two called me after reading my blogs citing that the Town of Hempstead is looking for the Lighthouse to negotiate size and scope.

They both said the following: “Charles Wang is not the kind of businessman who negotiates first”. Charles, per one, is a disciple of the Trump School of Business. Negotiation is a sign of weakness.

“If ToH wants to compromise then they are going to have to put up an offer first, Charles will not. But if they offer something, he will listen and consider”

The Lighthouse position seems to confirm this. The ToH had all summer to let the LH know what they wanted. Now is the time to let us know yes or no (yeah, it even rhymes).

Unfortunately, this staredown is simply not helpful. Proponents of the Lighthouse cite that any change to the size and scope would need completely new studies. However, in talking to a few experts, that is simply not true. It would not require new studies persay, and also might depend on what exactly gets changed.

The key words are what is still economically viable upon any reduction if they even get past this frozen positioning. Interestingly enough those numbers are an eye opener, and will be shared once we see what exactly happens between both sides.

The fact is, once we hit into next weekend, there will be a ton of positioning on both sides to offset what will be building fans pressure. You will see likely meetings with perennial trying to get a team, Jim Basillie and others to show and mount pressure on the ToH to blink first. The ToH might try to offer public compromises to get fan support and place pressure back on the “all of nothing” flawed philosophy of the Lighthouse group.

What neither admits is that the fulcrum…the poor fans in between this standoff are left suffering and in a confused haze to what is going on. As blogs list who supports the Lighthouse, like that has somehow changed since late March’s show of force at the Marriot seems rather pointless. As is bloggers who want to add themselves to the political fray. The only solutions here are communication between both sides, and the need for someone, anyone with a political heft to stand between both dug-in sides and say: “get it done”, allowing neither side to lose face.
Islander fan angst seems to mean little to either side at the top, as this standoff is likely to continue to and through the November elections.

Unfortunately, we are warned by those close to Charlie: “After October 3rd it gets dangerous. That is when Charles can get impulsive.”

Impulsive? Rick DiPietro given a 15 year deal impulsive? Fire Neil Smith after 45 days and hire the backup goalie impulsive? Make a “committee” impulsive?

Facts are there is an unpredictable element to leaving Charles date to pass without any type of conciliation.

Who To Blame in All This Gets Clearer . . .

Politically, a huge curtain was drawn away as finally after months and months, and investigative reporter from Newsday did an excellent piece on how things got this way. As cited earlier this year in blogs, the spector of Joseph Mondello weighs heavily to the partisan politics that are now rife between the two parties. But what Randi Marshall, a 12 year employee of Newsday who’s expertise is economy, housing and urban policy, also raises is the poltergeist of one Alphonse D’Amato who smashed through the horrendous contract for SMG and then convinced Charles Wang to buy the tean.

The D’amato and Mondello connection seems to be the last piece that lied unrevealed. Some conspiracy rumor fans  yelled about it, but nothing was ever offered to any writers or press with a shred of proof or moderus operandi till Newsday’s piece seemed to be able to make it clear.

D’Amato stands as the Lighthouse’s Fredo. A coward who turned on a dime when Charles Wang did not do the same type of behavior that shamed D’Amato’s political career….hire his brother. Before that, the Project had been negotiated with republican bosses to remain non-political. Once D’Amato was denied nepotism, all seemed to go south.

fredo2

When Suozzi ran for County Exec, Mondello and “Fredo” turned, having their subpar candidate, Peterson, use the LH as a bashing point. Once that was long lost, the Lighthouse remained a political point as Fredo faded, and Mondello rose only to fall out of the NY State leadership position. So if there is blame to why this is now still on the table, if not in a limbo post-hearing in 2009 instead of gone through years ago in 2005, it is because of Joseph Mondello and Al D’Amato of the Long Island Republican machine.

So that is how we got here, by being doublecrossed by an ethically challenged political hound and his fellow current leaders of the LI GOP who still has not apologized to insulting fans at Kate Murray’s re-election kickoff rally.

Now two sides sit staring dumbly, giving fans either panic or some form of goofy re-elective optomistic vibes as fans sit further beaten by Long Island’s worst form of politics.

What Needs To Happen

Someone needs to be the bigger man or woman here. Someone needs to step up and get off their entrenched position. Nassau County has been extremely quiet throughout the latest issues. So has the State. Who will come in and be a hero? Or will both sides suddenly start talking instead of supplying talking point?. Will Isles fan angst still pervade many good writers and bloggers works? When will common sense prevail and people stand up to the whims of the worst type of politics on LI? These politics are the politics of failure. Self-interest and favor games, while a team and fanbase are left in the lurch.

If Wang walks away in October to Brooklyn or Queens, which per many sources are both viable and potential destinations. But does Charles Wang really want to walk from a legacy with the Lighthouse Project, letting the political system win? Will the muddy waters of Computer Associates by his only LI legacy? Is that the proper solution? Is that really helping LI Islanders fans who were used to help pave some way.

Queens meantime requires a complete process to be started. Brooklyn might also need a new environmental review. So these are not easy-outs, nor perfect solutions.

So we stand here at a crossroads hoping that some commonsense and logic prevails instead of the political games and stubbornness that will only lead to more delay, drama and further ups & downs of an emotional rollercoaster for Islander fans. Someone please put down the political, team or blog pom poms and stand up instead of playing sides. It is time for reason, thoughtful measure and smarts.

The Reason The Lighthouse Project Wasn't Done Sooner

The Reason The Lighthouse Project Wasn't Done Sooner

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About the Author: B.D. Gallof is a published writer and hockey blogger. He writes about Hockey, NY Islanders & the NY Islanders venue situation for CBS New York. BD has been written up in Sports Illustrated, TSN.ca, the NY Times Slapshots blog, Yahoo's Sports and SportsBusiness Journal. He has been a featured blogger for The Huffington Post, as well as owner, lead writer, and managing editor at HockeyIndependent.com.

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  1. Jethro09 says:

    Well put and insightful.  Al D’Amato and Joe Mondello have way too much  control over this project.  Neither of these guys have a direct connection to the TOH governing body or the Lighthouse development team, yet their whims seem to be having a major effect on the outcome of this project.  Ridiculous.

    I still believe in my mind that this Project gets zoning approval and will be built.  The question is when does the approval come and for what portion of the project?  October 3 is a pipe dream and will never happen.  But Charles Wang needs to be rational.  He’s really past a point-of-no-return.  He and his group have already invested $15 Million in this project before a shovel has even hit the ground.  He’s invested five years and thousands of hours on this project to get it to this point.  He’d be a fool to simply walk away if zoning approval doesn’t come on October 3.

    Charles Wang has to be open to a “somewhat” scaled down version of the Project if it means getting approval and making all that time and money he and his group have invested worth it.  The only factor Charles Wang and his group need to consider as to whether to accept zoning for a scaled down version of the project is profitability.  If the scaled down version will still be profitable to the developers, they should agree to scale it down.  Lets just hope cooler and more reasonable heads prevail on this project and it gets approved.

  2. Mikey says:

    I agree that Charles should be willing to negotiate and scale down the project.  As a negotiating strategy, however, it would be foolish for him to make an offer at this time.  He has offered a plan, which the town has had two years to review.  The ball is now in the town’s court, and they should submit a counteroffer.  Otherwise, Charles will be negotiating against himself.  No rational negotiator would do that.  Let’s see what the town offers, and go from there.  It is in their interest to offer something quickly and put the public pressure back on Mr. Wang.
    I agree with your assessment that this could get crazy starting next week.  Charles has  record of impulsive and unpredictable behavior (e.g., giving Milbury a contract extension, approving the Luongo trade, the 15 year deal, the Neil Smith firing, hastily abandoning the Old Planview project, etc.)  There is no telling what he will do, and the town should be mindful of this.
    I think the cable deal will force him to seriously consider Queens or Brooklyn.  Queens is still a pipedream at this point because the city council did not approve a plan including any structures greater than 400,000 sq. feet.  I think they will have to go back to the drawing board on that one in order to get approvals for the arena.  The Brooklyn project, however, is closer to reality.  NO additional environmental approvals would be needed to include a hockey arena, because the originally plan called for a basketball/hockey arena.  The only potential roadblocks to Brooklyn at this point are 1) one final court decision (likely to come down in late Nov./early Dec. in Ratner’s favor), and 2) a redesign of the arena to include hockey.  Both are not big roadblocks if Charles works out a deal or sells the team to Prokorov (a likely possibility).
    My prediction is that we will know the fate of the Islanders by Christmas.  Charles will put pressure on Mondello/D’Amata to back off before election day, but his threats will be in vain because Kristen McElroy has fallen off the face of the planet.  After election, Murray will sit on her big fat hands and Brooklyn will be ironed out.

  3. Islander505 says:

    “ He’d be a fool to simply walk away if zoning approval doesn’t come on October 3.”

    If, on October 4, Wang receives an “offer he cannot refuse” from another city, or another entity with deep enough pockets to offset the substantial amount of money he has plowed into the Islanders and a LH sinkhole that is no closer to realization than it was 8 or 9 years ago, wouldn’t he be a bigger fool to ignore the offers?

    I think so.

    BD is absolutely right in his characterization of Wang as an impulsive decision maker.  His history with the Islanders is littered with lightly thought out decisions.
    I cannot imagine a scenario where Wang would not rid himself of this life burden if the right number of dollars were flashed in front of his eyes.

    For all of his shortcomings, Wang is a businessman first and foremost….money talks and bullshit walks.
     For all of his bluster about “I’m all about Long Island”, at what point does he say, 8-9 years down this pothole filled road, ”Screw Long Island, they’ve done nothing for me”.

    We are entering an extremely dangerous period for the future of the New York Islanders on Long Island.

    Just my opinion…

     

    • Jethro09 says:

      What kind of “offer he can not refuse” are you referring to?  One to sell the team or one to build the Lighthouse?  Because Charles Wang and his developers are businessmen, this issue is all about the Project and not the Islanders.  I don’t know if there are other cities out there that will allow him to develop this Project as he wants it now.  If there were, we would have heard about them already.

      In my opinion, Charles Wang’s first priority is the development of the land around the Coliseum, not the Islanders.  That’s not to say he doesn’t care about the team, but he wouldn’t have bought the team if he couldn’t develop the land around the coliseum.  If he were to get an offer from another city to build the Lighthouse as is, with no amendments and no contingencies on hearings and approvals, then sure, he should relocate the project, IF it would still be profitable.  But I don’t think there are cities out there lining up to offer Wang what he’s seeking from the TOH.  

      As far as the team goes, I think Charles Wang will strongly consider selling the team if someone offers him the cash to recoup his losses IF the Lighthouse doesn’t get approved.    I don’t think he wants to be the guy to move the team off LI, but the Isles are ancillary to the real issue here. 

      The real issue is the Lighthouse.  If that’s his priority and he wants this thing built, he must be reasonable and patient if his imposed deadline of October 3 is not met by the TOH and also must be willing to compromise if the TOH requests a scaled back version.  To go back to the drawing board with a new city after coming this far and investing this much money and time with the TOH would be foolish if his long-awaited approval is coming only weeks or months after his imposed October 3 deadline.

      • Fauxrumors says:

        1) If anything Wang has proven he is a man of his word. When the October 3rd deadline passes there is ZERO doubt he will look to other avenues/attempt to sell the team
        2) Good luck finding a taker outside of Balsillie who would over pay to the point where he’d get back hat he’s put into the team.
        3) Of course with the lease having another 4 years after this up coming season all sides do have time to kiss and make up, but would Charles do so once his deadline is past? 3) Of course with the lease having another 4 years after this up coming season all sides do have time to kiss and make up, but would Charles do so once his deadline is past? 

    • IslesFan72 says:

      The best scenario for the Islanders as an organization would be for this to fall through and for the Islanders and Wang to Proudly move the team to Brooklyn with the NETS. 
      Politics on the Island have clearly shown that the team and the fan base are insignificant. The Coliseum is in a huge need of an overhaul and Wang has done everything in his ability to turn the place around while hopefully looking to turn a profit down the line. After all is THAT what he BOUGHT the Islanders for?  Let’s not lose sight as fans, to the fact that this is still a business. Albeit one which has the potential to also turn Long Island into a draw. This will mean jobs, tax money, a Devloped swamp/marsh area which is currently going to waste, yet the “all knowing” politicians are possibly going to be the demise of it all. Why? Do they have a better stimulus package for Long Island? If so it would be nice to hear it ! ! !

      As for the Islanders, they would be much better off in Brooklyn. Wand would be able to split the cost of a new stadium with the Nets Ownership. Possibly selling a % to deeper pockets who could infuse some money into the team (I like the direction they are going in with rebuilding from within but when these kids develop a little further they will still need to bring in 2 or 3 Vets to compete properly). After all is said and done the Islanders will still be the New York – Islanders at least in my eyes. They will Draw more fans with the Proximity to the city and the much easier commute for NEW YORK fan base. If we traveled all the wa out to the island to help fill “as full as we got them” the seats with a less than stellar line up over the last few years I can invision a better showing with a commute that would be cut by 30 minutes and a lineup that is steadily showing improvement.

      My vote….  S C R * *  Kate and her crew… move the team and then let her explain it all

  4. [...] the Town of Hempstead holds things up, B.D. Gallof wonders on Hockeyindependant.com why neither Nassau County executives nor State government officials have been very quiet on this [...]

  5. Pat says:

    Okay so what we have now is basically a stalemate. On one side is the TOH and on the other side we have Charles Wang and  the Lighthouse Project. It’s time for someone  to get both sides in a room, lock the door and tell them nobody leaves until both sides can agree on what get’s built and what doesn’t. The property is going to get developed by someone so let’s get this done now for the good of all of Long Island. Both sides have to be able to save face. Charles get’s the project built in some  form or another that’s acceptable to him , and the TOH gets to say they helped save the Islanders. For the sake of everyone involved  GET IT DONE !!!

  6. [...] • BD’s latest on the New York Islanders/Lighthouse tension has probably the greatest opening image you’re going to see today. [Islanders Independent] [...]

  7. RyanB says:

    Here in Edmonton we’re at the beginning of the road to a new arena. For the love of all things holy I hope that it goes smoother than it has with the Lighthouse.

    This is a complete mess and like BD wrote it leaves the fans lost somewhere in the middle. There is clearly a win here for both sides – the current standoff won’t result in a win for anyone. Find some middle ground and get it done.