SKATING SOON at a rink near you - the Iron Triangle Islanders?
From the NY Daily News
Could Isles net the Point? Plan pushes Iron Triangle home
BY Nicholas Hirshon
Tuesday, February 10th 2009, 10:45 AM
SKATING SOON at a rink near you – the Iron Triangle Islanders?
The Queens Chamber of Commerce is making a long-shot bid to lure the four-time Stanley Cup champions from Nassau County as part of redevelopment plans for Willets Point, a maze of auto body shops near Citi Field.
The Islanders – who are reportedly mulling a move in case plans fall through to revamp their arena, the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, L.I. – declined to comment on the Willets Point proposal.
Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President Jack Friedman noted the Isles’ Coliseum lease expires in 2015, near the anticipated opening of a Willets Point convention center.
“Queens makes sense [for the Islanders] from so many levels because of the airports and its central location,” Friedman said, also noting the area’s proximity to highways and subways.
But Yale University Prof. Charles Euchner, an expert on sports team relocations, mocked Willets Point as a “half-baked” option because it would require too many infrastructure changes.
The Islanders stoked speculation about a move last month by scheduling a preseason game for September in Kansas City, which opened a state-of-the-art arena in 2007 and has been trying ever since to land a National Hockey League franchise.
The Isles are also moving their training camp in Canada from New Brunswick to Saskatoon, a puck-wild city that gunned for the St. Louis Blues in 1983.
Meanwhile, Islanders owner Charles Wang has reportedly grown impatient with Nassau officials for taking years to okay his project to renovate the Coliseum and redevelop the nearby area with shops and restaurants.
A spokesman for the Town of Hempstead board, which must approve Wang’s plans, said its members are “anxious to do everything we can to keep” the Islanders in Uniondale.
But Friedman isn’t alone in asking Wang, a Queens College grad, to consider a change.
Asked about hosting the Isles, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said she would be “very receptive” while the city announced it’s “open” to letting the team play in a Queens park.
City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) said the Isles should relocate to Queens to escape the Coliseum mess while staying near fans in Nassau and Suffolk – a scenario that neither Kansas City nor Saskatoon can offer.
“A hockey team like the Islanders enjoys a strong fan base,” Liu said of the local following the team has built over four decades. “Their enterprise is not like a warehouse you could plunk in the middle of anywhere.”
Even Mets third baseman David Wright was willing to share the borough’s sports scene.
“I’d recommend it,” Wright said of an Isles move. “I would endorse playing in Queens.”
Filed under: Community, Developer, Economic, hockey, Nassau County, New York City, NY Islanders, Queens, Sports, Willets Point | Tagged: Community Board 7, Flushing, hockey, Islanders, Nassau County, New York City, Queens, Sports, Willets Point | 1 Comment »