Kate Murray and James Darcy are Killing the Islanders

John Tavares Islanders
Islanders Alternate Captain John Tavares (Icon SMI)

With all of the uncertainty surrounding the New York Islanders’ arena situation, one would think that Nassau County politicians would lobby for Long Island’s only professional sports franchise to stay in Hempstead past 2015.

However, that is not the case.

After shooting down Charles Wang’s Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray took an absurd amount of time to come up with the appropriate zoning plan for the area around the Nassau Coliseum. Since that time, the Isles have experienced a failed referendum vote for a tax-payer funded arena on the Nassau Coliseum grounds and the speculation of a move out of the county is all but a certainty now. Kate Murray, the supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, recently revealed her true colors when she had the following to say about the NHL and the New York Islanders:

“Our work has been completed. We adopted our zone for the Coliseum area. Because this was such a jewel in the crown property, we created a zone that is sustainable from an economic standpoint…These are low days for the NHL. With the Rangers, it’s exciting.”

As the supervisor of the Town of Hempstead, Kate Murray must realize that Nassau County is not financially stable at this point in time. The area around the Nassau Coliseum is a sea of concrete and an eye sore for those that pass through the Uniondale area. Building Long Island’s umpteenth mall/shopping outlet won’t solve the county’s financial woes or attract a younger crowd to come settle in the area.

Murray and the Town of Hempstead won’t let Charles Wang buy up the land around the Coliseum or build an arena that will beautify the surrounding area. Instead, Murray believes that it is in the best interests of the County to sever ties with a franchise that brings in revenue on 41 separate occasions during the NHL season.

Shutting down the Nassau Coliseum won’t just spell the end of the Islanders, it could result in tremendous losses for an already economically starved Nassau County. Closing down this venue would signal the end of events such as the Warped Tour and many concert performances that are still booked at the Coliseum. In short, Nassau County would have to rely upon an investor to come out-of-pocket and develop the area around the Coliseum if they are to avoid having their already sky-high taxes raised even further.

Nassau County politicians seemingly have no interest in negotiating or helping the New York Islanders with their plight. The County owns the Nassau Coliseum, but the way that they treat their residents (Islanders) is eerily reminiscent of the way a slumlord treats his/her tenants. The Coliseum is outdated, has a perpetually leaking roof, and has been improved upon only when Charles Wang has decided to come out-of-pocket for the sake of his team. There are many entities that can be blamed for the Isles’ march into obscurity, but James Darcy’s most recent letter regarding the Islanders illustrates how contradictory and illogical Nassau County politics can be.

Darcy had some sharp words for Gary Bettman, the Islanders, and the NHL as he stated:

While we were making these investments, what were Bettman, the NHL and its wealthy owners doing? Seemingly, nothing except casting the occasional stone our way. Well, it’s time for them to put their money where their mouth is. Why can’t the league and its owners put together a financing package for Wang so that he can build his new Coliseum with private funds, in much the same way that former Red Sox owner John I. Taylor did with Fenway Park?

Aside from comparing modern-day arena construction to the building of Fenway Park in 1912, Darcy completely misses the point with his assessment.

Charles Wang

Charles Wang tried to develop the area around the Coliseum (Lighthouse Project) and make it into something that would give Long Island a legitimate attraction, but his plans were viewed as “too grandiose” by Nassau County and its politicians. Now, Darcy is suggesting that Wang build an arena with private funds on land that he cannot own. After reading such comments, which businessmen in their right mind would want to invest their time, money, and effort into a project that would not yield them a profit?

The New York Islanders are the residents of Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead, but they are certainly not treated as such. Yet Darcy believes that the Islanders, Charles Wang, and the NHL are the ones that owe Nassau County an unwavering commitment.

According to Darcy, the Town of Hempstead has been invested in the Isles’ future from day one and that “the town has stood ready to fast-track an application for a new and improved Nassau Coliseum.” If that was the case, and the Lighthouse project was considered to be too big for Long Island, then why won’t Kate Murray approve the sale of the land to Wang and allow him to develop it in a scaled down fashion that appeases both sides?

The answer is simple. Kate Murray, James Darcy, the Town of Hempstead, and Nassau County just do not care about the Islanders. Murray, Darcy, and the rest of Team Murray are focused on the re-election campaign, and probably assumed that a letter published in Newsday would boost their image for the November elections.

Regardless, Darcy’s letter and sentiments should be viewed with a grain of salt. If Nassau County wanted the Islanders, then a deal would have been in place years ago when Wang was offering to purchase and develop the land. As of recently though, it seems that the Isles’ stay in Nassau County will come to a close in 2015 and that they will see greener pastures elsewhere.




13 thoughts on “Kate Murray and James Darcy are Killing the Islanders”

  1. Great article, Toli.  Just one thing: Tavares is not the captain; Mark Streit is.

    • Yeah, I’m going to change that right now. I had another picture up there but my article was edited before it was published and I didn’t catch it. Thx for the reminder and comment Margann.

      • No problem.  I don’t think that the concept of him being captain is farfetched.  At times, I feel Tavares is more of one than Streit and I would not be surprised to see JT wearing the C in good time.

        • Same here, he has become much more of a vocal leader and he is def. the new face of the franchise. It shouldn’t be too long before JT gets the C.

  2. Some of what you wrote was completely incorrect because the Lighthouse or the referendum did not give the Wang or Scott Rechler ownership of the property.

    Without Scott Rechler there is no development, with the referendum Wang wanted no rights to build and would not have constructed a Coliseum if approved.

    How does a man with a ninety million dollar hotel he owns permanently next to the Coliseum move his team so his hotel can go out of business, to say nothing of his commitment/ownership in Bridgeport which he made clear is making money and will remain until 2021.

    Wang owns the Marriott since 2005, he bought out Rechler’s share in 2010 when Murray announced her zoning. He also owns the walk of champions real estate between both buildings.

    Say what you want about Kate Murray but twitter comments from one of Dolan’s people at Newsday (who would love to save 300m in cable contract money until 2030 if the Isles left)  taken second hand are not fair to Murray at all. we don’t know the context of that.

    As for Murray if she thinks the Rangers are exciting she should approve the 200m renovation the Garden got in 1990 from the taxpayers, the 1981 permanent tax exemption of 11-14m a year the Garden receives with low cost electricity which is why Dolan had to pay for his renovation to keep those things.

    Also don’t blame the Isles for the referendum, if this were for any other local team they all would have been overwhelmingly rejected. That scheme was Ed Mangno’s 30 year cashgrab for his general fund regardless how the Coliseum did revenue wise and still 67,000 people voted for it to help the New York Islanders.

    The referendum defeat takes Mangano off the hook while every other team got huge taxpayer money. Wang and Rechler got to lose 20m dollars on the Lighthouse.

    Tell me how Charles Wang abandons a hotel he spent 90m dollars for that will still be his if the Isles leave to become a tenant somewhere else when most teams in modern buildings are bleeding red ink (Devils, Predators, Msg, Washington, Minnesota, Dallas, Chicago) ect…..

    • I never blamed the Islanders for the failed referendum, what were you reading? Do you read or do you just skim through articles and then spew your biases?

      It seems as though you do the latter because the point of this article was that w/o ownership of the surrounding area, it’d be extremely hard for the investor to turn a profit.

      When did I say that the Lighthouse and referendum projects would’ve completely been under Wang’s ownership? That’s right, I didn’t, I merely said that Wang would’ve been allowed to develop the area around the arena that would have beautified it and brought in revenue, but you must’ve missed that.

      Why would you even bring Wang’s hotel into this? That has nothing to do with anything, the hotel is meaningless in this situation. The TOH and Kate Murray have made it clear that they want nothing to do with the Islanders. How else can you read into that?

      •  My bias? You are the one going on about the speculation of a move out of the county is all but a certainty now and that Kate Murray wants nothing to do with the team or it seems that the Isles’ stay in Nassau County will come to a close in 2015 and that they will see greener pastures elsewhere.  

        Pittsburgh played this game and they outright threatened to move a ton of times to the final days before a deal got done.  Edmonton’s lease is up in 2014 and they have no ground breaking scheduled or financing official. Darryl Katz has threatened several times to move.

        Bettman said these things about those teams too and in Pittsburgh’s case said the league has to explore relocation.

        Three years is still a very long time to renovate or construct a new building.

        Kate Murray did not issue such a statement or say she wants nothing to do with the Islanders, Ed Mangano did not issue such a statement either.

        How can you not bring up a 90m dollar hotel that Wang exclusively owns and will own on that property permanently after 2015, much less dismiss it as meaningless because Islander home games are a huge part of that business.

        You can bet Wang’s 90m dollar hotel, his ownership in Bridgeport and his 300m dollar cable contract until 2030 are all a big part of all this.

        • I think by Murray’s comments it’s easy to say that she has cut ties with the Islanders and the NHL for that matter.  This is very low on her priorities list.  Many times you say something by saying nothing at all as well.

          • Murray had no comments where she is quoted in a Newspaper nor is the Town Of Hempstead required to have ties to a tenant of a building in Nassau County. She was on the stage at the Coliseum less than a year ago to endorse the referendum. Her legacy is her own between making a zoning impossible for any developer that’s economically viable now or in the past.

            • Excuse me nyifancentral, but are you REALLY Kate Murray in disguise?  You make NO mention of THE FACTS in this case, but spend your time defending that ridiculous excuse for an intelligent politician which is an oxymoron given the state of politics now, who masquerades her cow-like attitude and physique as a “leader” – who is running the Town of Hwmpstead AND Nassau County into the ground.  The truith is, as a lifelong Islanders fan and season-ticket holder, I am forced to watch my team play in an outdated dump and will have to watch them leave in 3 years because of Kate “The Pig” Murray!

            •  Excuse me but there is no case and her record on the Isles is pathetic so we don’t need  incorrect misconceptions to cloud things do we? 

              All I wrote was is there is no direct quote from her in a newspaper article based on twitter gibberish from one of Dolan’s flunkies where she was never quoted. She was on the stage last summer to endorse the referendum.

              Her Lighthouse legacy has been written with her father getting county money and Frederick P Clark of Westchester making a profit.

        • So NOT the point. The Isles needed a new building.. let’s see.. at about the time of the new ice age, a good 20 years ago, when I was a kid.

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