Bill Of Rights On Lighthouse & New York Islanders

New York Islander Fan Central | 4/19/2010 06:36:00 PM |
NYIFC was/is a hockey blog and the primary focus is always the team and the games being played. Enough was written on The Lighthouse Project when blog was working fulltime along with tons of articles and a lot of things written moving forward before last summer.

Now that the season is over and there is some full-time blogging going on here albeit temporarily, it's time to address some things because there have been major changes and a few points I would like to make.

Call it a Bill of Rights, a reality check for some folks or some very straight writing on this subject.

1. This project and what the New York Islanders proud history represent are not reality television where you are entitled to updates on negotiations or some sideshow in the newspapers every time someone throws out a rumor. You are entitled to attend hockey games and read what the developers presented about the project to the public at their focus meetings or the public hearings, that's it.

2. Charles Wang and most non-corporate hockey owners cannot throw out a ton of front loaded contracts in July, lose fifty plus million a year and rebuild Nassau County's Coliseum for free. Msg almost closed it's doors before it got tax exemptions/low cost electricity and the Devils new Prudential Center was paid for in large part by Newark.

2B. You are not dealing in reality if the only answer you have to every New York Islander problem is Wang should spend/lose more money. If the only response to this is that's not your problem and you will not attend or support the club this is something you have every right to do.

Chris Dey went the Buffalo Sabres route going simulcast/latest limited radio stations while Devils WFAN games are on internet or overflow stations most games, life goes on and money did have to be saved somewhere like unqualified amateur's doing game reports on the team website to supplant media professionals. No one noticed Utah added a second ECHL affiliate this year either.

2C. Reality is TOH is not giving Wang/Rechler the kind of tax exemptions the Yankees got to go spend hundreds of millions on ballplayers the same week they were in court last January demanding an additional three hundred million for their tax payer bonded stadium NY Times the public subsidized to pay for free agents.

Bottom line is if this project were approved tomorrow in full:

If Wang and Rechler had a financial institution in this recession willing to finance their reported 3.7 billion needed for this project (which always costs more), if it were built within it's estimated ten years (always longer), if it were completely leased/rented from day one (another miracle),Charles Wang with the money he would have to pay back for the project including all he has lost owning the Islanders for a decade and massive salaries he will have to pay out moving forward over the next ten years will not see a dime of profit over two life times.

Meanwhile there are actual fans, media writing/speculating about Charles Wang doing all this for the money?

3. The Lighthouse is Charles Wang and Scott Rechler's project. It is not only about one individual or a hockey team. Folks throwing out Brooklyn, Queens and starting over like Wang is in this by himself or had invested nothing up to this point and can move to other places should keep in-mind both these men together paid ninety million for the Marriott Hotel next to the Coliseum and will own it regardless what happens, they have already spent millions in development of this project.

4. No one is giving Charles Wang (even if he talks Scott Rechler into development with him elsewhere) free land or a public-financed arena at Willets Point or Brooklyn to where they move in and simply start making money. There is a huge eminent domain fight at Willets Point against generational businesses and twenty nine other individuals expressed interest in the right to develop that land. You can also bet Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who got a ton of tax breaks like his Bronx counterpart, wants every taxpayer exemption penny the Yankees got for their baseball neighborhood inside a ballpark while he builds his baseball neighborhood outside the ballpark.

5. Mr Wang said he wanted to keep all negotiations out of the newspapers, when the puck dropped he did a good job of it. The TOH finally after elections ended decided to ignore Wang's request and discuss what changes they want to a point they were going to re-create the project for Wang-Rechler, plus make public a billing issue with the company they hired out of Westchester (FP Clark) vs the developers for a Long Island project, that forced Wang on television to make a few awkward comments.

6. We are entitled to absolutely nothing every single time someone throws out rumors, innuendo, gossip/so-called insiders or sources making claims about this project regardless what is reported. This is not reality television where Wang/Rechler are obligated to speak through their websites or James Dolan's paywall in Newsday.

6B. If you are in this for page views or playing amateur insider to make yourself the story, spare us all now and go away. The New York Islanders are always the story, not a bunch of self-serving people selling themselves as resources acting like they are entitled to more and will claim sources/anything for a page-view first and anything else second. New York Islanders and our fans have no time for this.
What is Common Knowledge:
From the Lighthouse Site:

A: The Lighthouse Development Group on 9/29 submitted its Final Generic Environmental Impact Statement (FGEIS) during the hearing and is now waiting on its approval from the TOH.

B: On Oct. 1st Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, Charles B. Wang, and Scott Rechler announced an agreement between the County and the Lighthouse Development Group for a "sports-based transaction" and ground lease for the 77 acres at the Nassau Coliseum site. This agreement would extend the Islanders' commitment to play at the Coliseum through July 31, 2030 and provide development rights for the site once the Town board issues its approval.

NYIFC Comments:
There is the new sublease with Smg allowing Wang/Rechler to make money from events at Coliseum until 2015 and there is the LH agreement which would extend the Islanders' commitment to play at the Coliseum through July 31, 2030 and provide development rights for the site once the Town board issues its approval.

They are two entirely different things because the later is the future beyond 2015 with a renovated Coliseum and LH project.

That town board approval is very tricky now because Republican County Executive, Ed Mangano did not negotiate that lease, he was not happy former Democratic Executive/current Newsday employee Tom Suozzi negotiated the other new Smg sublease during the final days of his administration which is binding.
1. The new sublease Tom Suozzi/Wang/Rechler negotiated in his final days before leaving office is sketchy on full details but the biggest game-changer in twenty plus years of this process with Wang/Rechler paying Smg to finally receive all event money made at Nassau Coliseum until 2015. Supposedly part of this means Wang can move team but Nassau has final approval.

1B. If Ed Mangano's new Republican town board denies approval of a the new lease Wang is out of his old Islanders lease entirely but that can only happen after TOH approves the Lighthouse project.

2. This is why you see Islanders Entertainment all over the teams website with the hotel because Wang/Rechler now receive everything from all events year-round in those buildings. Smg reportedly got paid around seventeen million for this (no bargain based on what was offered a decade ago to buyout Smg entirely) if there is a renovation/Lighthouse Smg does not lose revenue with building closed during summer so Wang/Rechler assumed all financial losses.

This to me is the strongest indication Wang/Rechler want to still do this project because that is a lot of money to pay out plus the work it will require to draw in more events. (even if Wang did this himself) It is also significant because it runs until 2015 when all leases expire or a buyer surfaces.

3. I don't see Wang as Islander owner offering long-term ticket packages and walking away out of nowhere now that he has operating control of the building and a few weeks ago adding virtual signage to Coliseum in April here. The closer things get to 2015, the more Nassau/TOH need Wang/Rechler to renovate their building for them unless their overall plan is to get someone/anyone else in there with or without the hockey team to finance some kind of renovation for them.

3B. I have no doubt Cablevison/Msg/Dolan would love to be the ones to get in there as quickly as they did the Hartford Civic Center, expand their brand officially to the Long Island market and perhaps buyout the cable contract at a discount to pay for a Coliseum renovation and another entertainment venue. Newsday's uneven/spotty coverage on Lighthouse (before Eden Laikin starting working for Ed Mangano) has supported the project in editorials but sports coverage before Cablevision even purchased the paper was terrible and only going downhill further in terms of the New York Islanders content and space provided for games.

4. The Lighthouse could well be reduced to becoming political football where the idea is don't be the one to reject the project, make the other side do that by creating impossible demands or dragging it out for years vs Wang-Rechler still have to listen because that hotel they own is going to be there under their ownership and it forces them to negotiate.

4B. It took less than one day/hour for Ed Mangano's New Nassau website to remove all traces of the Lighthouse project when he was sworn into office. That is not a very good sign and feels a lot like Kate Murray's claim of being an impartial judge only to launch a do the Coliseum first website or demanding local unions while she was bringing in Westchester's FP Clark or making sure her father had a forty dollar an hour job part time plus much more.

5. Biggest problem for TOH/Republican/Ed Mangano/Nassau is that Wang-Rechler can reject any scaled down plan they present and demand a yes or no on full project still waiting for a vote from September.

In the end, TOH can stall but someday they will have to vote on this project and if that happens will ultimately be the ones to reject it and receive the blame which is what they do not want under any circumstances.

5B. TOH/Murray must come up with something scaled down/or not and no doubt will at some point soon. We all hope it is something Wang-Rechler will be receptive to if it makes any kind of financial sense for them, however it could also mean Wang-Rechler fire right back with take our original plan or vote it down.

Either way again the TOH has to vote and where the LH project would ultimately be accepted or defeated and where the blame/credit will go.

Don't think for one moment that is not a big problem for TOH or Republican Nassau if this project is voted down, time keeps ticking down on Wang's leases while he looks for a buyer because this problem goes back on Nassau/TOH long before his tenure as owner began.

This is where things now stand.

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