UPDATE: Per a source, the Lighthouse Project met last night. Smells like damage control. Someone must have gave out a directive to wait until today. That in itself is problematic, insulting and what makes it still stink to high-heaven.
But what is the official take on the LI Press story that engulfed the entire Islander fanbase? There wasn’t one until 11:30am this morning:
This statement was issued by Charles B. Wang, Principal of Lighthouse Development Group and Owner of the New York Islanders, at 11:30 a.m. today.
“Yesterday’s report on the Lighthouse project which appeared in the Long Island Press is untrue. 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.”
This follows their first play to Newsday to supply it an hour earlier. Last night Newsday ran a piece on what is likely a top LHP brass (not Wang) who says nothing has been abandoned. Feel played? You should, it is likely that the situation was either manufactured or simply preyed upon, once again using fans as the pivot in-between two sides that need to work issues out. You can blow smoke up our asses all day long about Atlantic Yard Brooklyn…who is now being sued by residents about eminent domain, and Willet’s Point… fraught with issues. To me, it is Nassau or bust.
And for a group who accused the Town of Hempstead to playing games? What was yesterday, ladies and gents?
Let’s go back to the start of it…
Somewhere within the media blackout of silence that resembled the Cone of Silence from Get Smart, someone got antsy. Someone attempted to go to the papers and tell a tale as the rest of the Isles faithful sweated it out. Newsday, despite all the Chuck Dolan nutty conspiracy stories by some, will not do a story with one unnamed source. So it is that reason perhaps that the Long Island Press had an exclusive that Charles Wang had pulled up shop, reassigned staff and all went “dark”. This is actually true. Some staff, reportedly, have been reassigned. It was probably set in motion long before the October 3rd deadline. Perhaps even planned to coincide? Plainview offices have been consolidated to the Coliseum. Currently, the inner offices at the Coliseum resemble a giant dorm room . . . errr . . . without the gravity bong.
I called three people when that story came out. One with the Islanders. One with the Town of Hempstead. One well-placed smack dab in-between. All three don’t buy the hype or rumor. Unless the Lighthouse Project or Charles Wang give out a certain statement, all this rumor and innuendo is just that.
If true or not, this silence if continued is an lack of professionalism by using that drama, because all it does is affect long suffering fans. Fans have been asked to do so much. They really deserve far better.
The question that smack most is who is the unnamed source and were they really in the know, or just sucked up for a paper who hasn’t had many words or a timely article for this entire process. IS it really someone with a bone to pick or with inside information, or just someone with half a story? Was this a setup, which is something the LI Press article alludes to the possibility? Or was this a frustration of “5 years” despite the fact it was only in the Town of Hempstead’s for less than one?
A lot of questions and little insight except for a little buzz for a free paper.
Whatever the case, as some promote Brooklyn or Queens to assuage their own fears and concerns, let it be known that this ham handed drama still has not played out. Last week, Kate Murray and Charles Wang met for breakfast and agreed to bring in others into meetings. Then late last week, Charles tried to ammend that to also include the labor group.
Per a source: “Kate and Charles had a positive meeting. I find it hard to believe that he’d opt out unless he had finance problems”
It is there belief, unless rumors pull true, that they will continue to meet and work out issues.
But, that isn’t so easy, says another source. If there is a point in which Charles decides that this is not worth his while, he is capable of changing his mind and taking it as a NO.
So is this moved for others to hash out, and did someone just get antsy and chattering simply because they misconstrued the actions/motions of another Islanders office consolidation. Is this a final gambit/ploy to get the full project? Or has Charlie finally had his Good and Plenty?
Or is this the escape hatch they hoped for all along where they are no longer on their own wallet to pay for their own venue? Or is an amateur move by a group involved that were slurping a bit too much of the kool aid?
Meanwhile, despite the rumors, there are some hard truths hidden in there . . .
What would happen if he did?
Is there a contingency plan coming about for that land? Something on a small scale that perhaps was more palatable to the Smallville ethos that the Town of Hempstead subscribes to in an election year. Many developers have adopted a “wait and see” attitude to this entire situation. One can wonder if some are already coming up with ideas in which to throw if it comes to that the Project fails. Some have to be rubbing their palms furiously. Unfortunately that doesn’t answer the more important issue of the fate of the Islanders, in any case.
Per a ToH source: “That land will be developed. It will not just sit there. We will do something with it if Charles Wang decides to move on.”
BUT What is it is true???? What if that source had something juicy before the Isles/Wang could announce? Ok, let us examine . . .
Whatever proceeds here, the blowback, if this is all correct from the article, will litter them all. Charles Wang looks like a flaky business man who gives money away to goalies with lifetime deals but complains about money spent on getting the Lighthouse Project pushed through and then as soon as his own date to have certainty, he even says that he’s still talking, but then . . . jumps ship? If true, it looks terrible for the Lighthouse Project and Charles Wang. Because as of last week, they were talking.
The Town of Hempstead also would get theirs . . . they who used aloof and silence as a weapon faces serious questions on ideas, ideals and intent as a huge recession buster of a project walks away. As the waltz to re-election now faces irate fans looking to blame where Pavlov pointed. Sure, Murray does get re-elected, but memories of pissed off fans are long indeed. Someday the piper will be paid.
The Islanders, who for all Charles Wang’s spending on the Lighthouse, has gutted the business structure and has people juggling multiple roles and hats. This seems more message of shearing the business organization. This was something perhaps put in motion over year ago. So, despite the play on this to the press, it seems that the LH being “darkened” is simply because only the top brass are involved anymore, and most else had to be changed.
So, to me, the LI Press piece and source is not telling the entire story.
So will this be the end? Or just an attempt at rumor and innuendo to play the press that blew up in the Lighthouse’s own face? Or is there more twists and turns as gambits and ploys hit the feeders as two sides jostle with Islanders fans left tied above the boiling cauldron like an old episode of Batman and Robin? So is all for naught by a nut and small-town retreads, or is this waiting for the “rescue” as this is the climax and all gasp and tremble with POW! BAM! and KABOOM!??
We fans have been pushed and pulled throughout this drama of discord and antics that will have me looking to write a book if this truly goes belly-up. In the end, this is another chapter to a sad state of affairs where we fans are the one holding the bill, bitter taste, and dirty laundry. Only a happy ending to this story is acceptable. Meanwhile the Lighthouse Group meets within their own created media blackout. Will they answer, put out flames, or just add more gasoline?
Nobody is telling, but meanwhile don’t buy the hype wholesale.
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.