The Lesson of Phoenix = Nix the Move Threat

by Brenna Solop

So now that we’re well into the season and the Islanders are not quite great but not quite the horror show I anticipated, the talks of the team “moving” have simmered down. But it lingers there, in the background, a very real question mark especially when you consider the shaky ground of the Nassau County political landscape. As we await to find out who our next County Executive will be, we have no choice but to put the Lighthouse Project question on hold. Sure, lots of things are promised during the campaign, but anyone with a sliver of intelligence knows you can’t hang your hopes on any of that. Here’s what I know. Suozzi sure looked like he was championing the project but up until now there’s not much tangible evidence that the project will happen other than some handshakes and photo-ops. For Mangano, I always passed his signs on my way to work and saw the word TAX with a big Ghostbusters slash going through it, which led to me nicknaming him “Robin Hood” due to his aversion to the only thing guaranteed in life besides death. But it just seems to me that a guy so bent on lowering taxes might not have the attitude of, “HOO-RAY!!! Let’s build us a really gigantic sports and shopping complex!!! Now THAT’S what I call practical!!!” I have no idea how to feel, but the Tums container is growing lower and lower.

And yet, I count my lucky stars that I am not a Phoenix fan. I really feel bad for Phoenix, and any fan of a team that declares bankruptcy and/or moves. I remember when the Expos closed shop and how devastated their few but loyal fans were. This was the city that lovingly welcomed Jackie Robinson as a minor leaguer before he broke the barrier – for me, that will always make Montreal significant in baseball history. Yet, that history has been forgotten by so many, and I wonder if that will happen again should my team leave my town. Many would say I’m in the crosshairs of my own pity, since every time my team hits the skids the grumblings about moving bubble to the surface. The only glimmer of hope from the failed franchises of recent years and the current situation of the Coyotes is that it proves there are a lot of smaller cities in this country that simply aren’t going all out for hockey. The most financially struggling teams, the teams that have problems putting people in the seats, are from the types of cities the Islanders are rumored to be moving to. Kansas City is the one you hear most often, but a move there virtually guarantees empty seats after the excitement of the first season has ebbed. I know it’s a pathetic way of looking at things, but I honestly feel it’s better to be the most forgotten, most overshadowed team in the big market than a flash in the pan in a small market, especially for what is a (sorry – truth hurts) niche sport. Don’t get me wrong – I adore smaller cities and I love how they support their teams, but I have a similar affection for my team and I just don’t see them becoming the kings of KC or Cleveland or Cincinnati or Houston or Milwaukee or Baltimore. Better to fly under the radar in New York than burn bright for a season or two as a curiosity.

We can’t leave it up to the politicians. We shouldn’t be leaving it up to ownership, because they’ll follow the almighty dollar, as they should. It’s up to us to save our team – go to games, e-mail the politicians, get involved – before we become the place “where they used to play.”

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About the Author: An Islander fan since first grade, Brenna is waiting for the glory days to return. God-forbid the Islanders move, she's praying they leave a casino in their wake, so that she can drown her sorrows at the Let It Ride table. And boy, is she a lousy gambler.

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  1. Chris TMC says:

    “a guy so bent on lowering taxes might not have the attitude of, “HOO-RAY!!! Let’s build us a really gigantic sports and shopping complex!!! ”

    The thing is, the ”us” in that sentence- him and the govt- wouldnt be the ones paying for OR building it!

  2. Nick Giglia says:

    Brenna, you are 100% correct.  I’ve been hammering this theme home for months – if we want respect, and if we want to save our team, that has to be on US.  I interviewed Ed Mangano over at Let There Be Light(house), and he said he is fully behind the project, even though he likely won’t push Kate Murray to move faster.
    He can be as for it as he wants to be, but Ed Mangano can’t save us – we can only save ourselves, and we have to act like a fan base that wants to save our team.  We have an exciting young team, and I hope people start coming.

  3. Brenna says:

    Thanks Nick. Keep up the good work.

  4. Brenna says:

    This is a response to Chris’ comment above…
     
    Chris, what you say is absolutely (we hope!) true…but it seems people who like to keep the purse strings tight aren’t crazy about lots of spending going on around them. No matter how much Wang assures us that it’s being privately funded, there will always be skeptics.
    Can you blame the skeptics? Hard to.

  5. Brenna says:

    Thanks Nick. Keep up the good work and keep fighting the good fight.