Editor’s note: This is another Islanders-focused post (here is the other one) by Vicky! Today, August 1, the voters of Nassau County are going to the polls to vote on the construction of a new stadium. The stakes are pretty high, as you will see…
I’ve been an Islanders fan since the 1992-93 season. I’ve stuck with them through the late 90s, which was they had hit rock bottom, I’ve seen the team at their worst. I’ve been there through the embarrassing logo changes, the fire sales to purge the payroll, countless personnel changes, players refusing to play here (KIRK MULLER. And I’m looking at you too, Evgeni Nabokov), and endless jokes about how they’re the laughingstock of the NHL. I’ve seen my favorite players traded only to flourish elsewhere, and I’ve been to games where the Coliseum was either half empty, or half full of fans from the opposing team.
Despite all that, I’m still a very very devoted fan and things are looking up. Saying the Islanders are a hopeless and pathetic team with no future is sooooo 1998.
They showed promise last year. We have some excellent young talent, devoted players who actually LIKE being here, and a very passionate fanbase. Grabner getting nominated for the Calder alone shows that the NHL is finally, FINALLY starting to take us seriously again. If we’ve survived this long, we can keep moving forward.
But we can’t move forward without a new arena. The Coliseum is a dump, and compared to the stadiums elsewhere around the league, it’s like the Islanders are playing in the local skating rink where peewee teams practice and your cousin had a skating party for their 6th birthday. We need to even the playing field a bit. The majority of the NHL doesn’t want to play here, and having a decrepit arena does factor into that.
Long Islanders can whine all they want about taxes going up (when admittedly, Nassau is one of the highest taxed counties in the country), but even if you vote no and this fails, taxes are going to go up even more. And all the NIMBYs can complain about a new arena destroying the suburban-ness of the area, but guess what? The surrounding area around the Coliseum doesn’t have that feel to begin with! You have Hofstra University next door, some office buildings, and across the street are bars and restaurants. Building an arena won’t make things horrible for the residents who live further past Hofstra.
A new arena means the creation of jobs (especially in the construction field, which has been hit hard by unemployment), a boost to the local economy (and to a smaller extent, tourism, because we do attract visiting teams’ fans), repairing one of the Island’s eyesores, AND it will keep a professional sports team on Long Island.
I hate living here, having the Islanders close by is one of the very very few things I like about Long Island. And if this fails, and Wang announces he’s relocating the team after the lease expires, I’m out of here. “Leaving over a hockey team leaving? That’s ridiculous!” Not when you hate this place as much as I do. Long Island sucks, but I like having my hockey team here.
And guess what…the threat of moving the team is very real. Kansas City wants a team, the Islanders played an exhibition game there in 2008 and I’m pretty sure it sold out. They also have a brand new arena and they want a team for it! And Quebec City…they miss their Nordiques. They either have a new arena or are in the process of getting one! And remember that game last season when tons and tons of fans from Quebec came down, wearing Nordiques jerseys and waving Fleur-de-lis flags and filling the stands when the Islanders started of the season less-than-stellar? Look at Hartford…there’s still some interest in bringing back the Whalers.
I’m hoping we win out. Posts on twitter from Chris Botta and Randi Marshall are saying some communities are reporting that votes are overwhelmingly NO, and someone ripped down all the “Vote yes” posters in my town and stuck up a whole mess of “Vote no” ones in their place, but I’m trying not to give up. A vote yes is beneficial to Long Island, AND it will keep the Islanders here. I don’t want to lose my team.
We’ll be monitoring the vote all night (polls just closed at 9 p.m. and it is now about 9:20 p.m.) and will report on more as it happens.