At least six municipalities will line up as suitors and attempt to bring in the New York Islanders if the NHL franchise opens itself up to offers of a new home, a league source has informed FanHouse.
October 3 -- the date of the Islanders' home opener -- is the deadline set by team owner Charles Wang for resolution from the Town of Hempstead on the Lighthouse Project, the major development of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, where the Isles play, and surrounding property. In light of the latest setback -- a billing dispute between the Lighthouse Development Corp. and Town planning firm Frederick P. Clark & Associates -- the likelihood of Wang getting his "certainty" from Hempstead in less than a month becomes smaller.
If Wang authorizes his staff to listen to offers from municipalities outside Nassau County on Oct. 4, it appears he will have plenty of options. As previously reported, leaders in Queens County, N.Y. and Kansas City are two of the Islanders' potential suitors. The source refused to identify the other municipalities that are said to have expressed preliminary interest in being in business with the National Hockey League.
A re-zoning hearing for the Lighthouse Project with the Town of Hempstead is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 22 -- ironically, the same day the Islanders play a preseason game against the Kings in Kansas City. Lighthouse insiders are frustrated by the Town's delays, the latest being the dispute with the town's planning firm that has halted work on the project.
Faced with an Aug. 17 deadline for public comment on the Lighthouse, all of the New York State and Nassau County agencies delivered on their promises to fast-track their approvals. These include the State Department of Transportation and County Department of Health. Said one Lighthouse insider: "The Town talks a lot about how fast they are moving. The reality is that everyone else, including all the state and county agencies, met their commitments. With the Town, it's just one excuse and one delay after another."
Since purchasing the Islanders in April of 2000, Wang has been steadfast in wanting to keep the team in Nassau County and on Long Island. On Oct. 4, the eyes of Islanders fans -- and municipalities in search of an NHL franchise -- will be on Wang to see if he explores his options.