Written under duress (and disappointment) by B.D. Gallof
I’ve been following things in regard to the arena for a long time now. I never asked for it, nor do I derive any satisfaction from the writing of it. I’ve just striven for truth within a giant murk of all sorts of intentions, public relations, politics, subterfuge and beliefs. I don’t take a whole lot of pride on being right on certain elements that I called out early on. I, like you, want this solved and done with. I, like you, want to concentrate on the hockey on the ice. Unfortunately this has not been the case for us both.
This has been a long winding road filled with all sorts of blockades, people and issues. It is not worth even delving into the particulars. I think all our psyches are scarred with all that has gone on. But it might be the toughest one to swallow for fans and the owner when the Coliseum Referendum failed in Nassau County.
Evidently expectation was that the Islanders fans would carry this through, along with the Republican machine and unions behind it. It did not. Not even close.
For one thing, the Republican machine is splintered, the Conservative base has lost faith in Mangano. The other is that union vote was very static. Not enough came out to make a difference. Above all, and not lost on Charles Wang, is that there just wasn’t enough committed fans to come out and vote to make it happen within the County that they are depending on and wanting to stay in. That, my friends, like it or not, spoke volumes.
This last one is key, and though I have heard much argument by many hopeful/idealistic fans that this is not the case, let me assure you… it is a problem.
There was nobody more angry, more upset, and by that, finally, more resolute from August 1st than one Charles Wang. Referendum proponents waiting for the tally at the Coliseum that evening were stunned at the early numbers. The rest of the evening just had to be a pile-on of reality thereafter.
Despite a lot of fan, blogger, hockey peanut gallery conjecture, added on with some business proponents hype on their own area’s self-interest, I am here to tell you that neither Suffolk, Brooklyn or even Queens right now are tangible realities UNLESS something comes along with it…
…an ironclad guarantee and assurance by someone with power.
Charles Wang, as of August 1st, is done chasing. He is done putting forth an effort. He has chosen to stand pat until 2015, time on his side.
For all the fans talk, Charles has really said absolutely nothing. His people have been absolutely silent. You can here a pin drop, if only everyone else would shut up about their own ideas on what is feasible.
The fact that everyone else is doing all the talking should provide some clarity. The nervous filling of the space because silence is terribly uncomfortable after August 1st should ring alarm bells. No fan seems to be able to handle any bit of silence, so everyone is chattering and providing their information on what is possible.
Perhaps one needs to sit in silence, and contemplate, like Charles did that August 1st, where that anger was sharp and real. Where that reality hit with a lopsided vote where the over 55 ran the table on Nassau County’s future. Where he was taken in again pining hope on someone political who failed miserably even in getting his own party behind it.
No, sorry folks, not going to tell you a tall tale of how Queens is throwing out a red carpet (when has the Chamber of Commerce meant anything politically?), or how Brooklyn is possible even though the place is not setup for hockey, or how Suffolk has so many places, yet not enough interest nor the Isles time to get a thing done.
Charles does not care what others say anymore. This is what you don’t want to hear. Not what I wanted to hear. He is only interested in now a sure thing. It means the promise of not a Chamber of Commerce or some political flack but by the Borough President and Mayor now.
9/9/2011 is now your new date. This is the deadline for a RFP to Queens. When Charles does not supply one, this should silence the unyielding hopeful chatter and imagination of many. I hope to be wrong here. I hope that someone plies in with something strong. But the only way Charles Wang puts forth a RFP to Queens is if it is set-in-stone to happen. That he has the heavyweights, not the lightweights, behind it.
I get everyone wants them to stay. Hell, so do I. But wishing it doesn’t make it reality. And the stream of stuff that has hit the blogs, twitterverse, and boards is pure nonsense.
The more likely scenario is that Nassau County is now dead, barring a miracle served to Charles on a silver platter. Queens can only come through if some political heavyweight can smooth out the scene and provide guarantees. The reality is that when 9/9 comes, and there is the continued silence or empty words with an ad or repeating a wish, that is more likely that Charles Wang will stand pat to the final end game. 2015.
When that time comes, Phoenix will have already been relocated. Dust will have settled. He can then let all proponents and prospective owners fight it out with either a set place and development rights, or buy the team at the highest price possible.
A lot will have happened in 4 years. Quebec will have an arena. Paul Allen, in Seattle, might be looking for a team. There will be finally lots of options for a man who has been stuck between a rock and a hard place…sometimes placed there by his own business and whims, no argument here. But nevertheless, this is the reality that materialized fully the evening of August 1st, I am sorry to say
A message has rung like a clarion bell thanks to the large number that voted no that said to the Isles owner, team and fans: “…We can do without your kind in Nassau County”.
Charles was listening.
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.