Relocation Rumblings: Kate Murray Really Wants the Islanders to “Stay”

Will John Tavares & Matt Moulson be playing elsewhere after the Islanders' lease expires in Nassau County? (BridgetDS/Flickr)

If the sarcastic title wasn’t enough to get the point across, then by now Islanders fans could have realized that this article was not meant to paint the rosiest of pictures for the team’s arena situation in Nassau County. Earlier in May, Kate Murray left little room open for interpretation when speaking about the Islanders, but with the reelection campaign about to start for Team Murray it seems that the politician has backtracked on some of her words and suddenly empathizes with the plight of the team and its fans.

For the last several years, there have been many musings as to what the team will do once its lease expires in 2015. Some destinations of interest that have been mentioned have included the likes of Quebec, Seattle, and Brooklyn, but it seems as though Nassau County is becoming less of an option for the Isles as the months pass by. Town of Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray might not be at liberty to discuss the financial situation of Nassau County, but her attempts to convince Islanders fans that she wants the team to stay on Long Island are futile to say the least.

Back when Charles Wang proposed the Lighthouse Project to the Town of Hempstead, Kate Murray and fellow politicians believed that the design was “too grandiose” for the town. After taking an extended amount of time to come up with the zoning for the area around the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Kate Murray proposed a scaled down version of the Lighthouse Project that would have made it extremely difficult for Charles Wang to build an arena. While there has been some recent talk regarding the Isles’ arena situation and Gary Bettman’s visit to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Kate Murray made some headlines of her own by trying to profess her “want” for the Isles’ stay in Nassau County. However, just a month ago Murray was singing a different tune as she stated, “These are low days for the NHL, with the Rangers, it’s exciting”. Islanders fans have long been used to the quips thrown their way over the last two decades, but Murray’s attempt to assuage fans before her reelection campaign is quite transparent.

Murray’s most recent comments regarding Long Island’s only professional sports franchise were made available through Newsday desk reporter Patrick Whittle, who tweeted the following:

Ever since Charles Wang’s Lighthouse Project was rejected, Kate Murray’s attitude towards the Islanders and their arena situation was one of mere indifference, which makes her mention of “our Islanders” a bit perplexing to Isles fans. The type of sentiment that Murray eschewed for the Islanders through her most recent comments were not apparent after the Lighthouse Project was voted down and Islanders fans were left wondering where their team would end up past 2015.

So, the question beckons. Why would Kate Murray suddenly be waving the welcome flag for a team that she had shown a general disregard for just a month ago?

Well, the answer might be very simple as Team Murray will be up for reelection in a few months. One of the most pressing issues regarding the Town of Hempstead and Kate Murray’s reign as the town’s supervisor will undoubtedly be the interest that the 71-acre area around Nassau Coliseum has garnered from potential developers. Murray has stated that there have been casual talks among developers and what they want to do with the land around the Coliseum, but there have not been any indications that these potential developers would include the arena as part of their development plan.

Murray even went a bit further in her self-absolution as she stated the following through Patrick Whittle:

While it could be easy to believe that Murray is just one politician that only has a certain amount of sway in Nassau County, it would be foolhardy to believe that Murray didn’t play a role in the demise of the Lighthouse Project. Charles B. Wang, who is a long time native of Long Island, had a vision for Hempstead and the Islanders when he proposed the beautification of the sea of concrete surrounding Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. However, Kate Murray was among the people that believed that Wang’s vision was “not sustainable” and the zoning plan that she submitted in 2010 cut Wang’s Lighthouse proposal in half and ultimately left the owner with an economically unviable plan for the area around the arena.

Kate Murray failed to illustrate the same type of sympathy for the Isles’ arena situation in the past few years and hasn’t really done much petitioning on behalf of the Islanders to warrant a belief in her recent sentiments toward the franchise’s plight. So far, the only thing that one can deduce from Kate Murray’s comments is that there have not been any new developments in Nassau County regarding the long-term stay of the New York Islanders. The only thing that has been made apparent to Islanders fans is the fact that Nassau County is becoming a bleaker option as the days pass and the politicians keep their lips sealed.

It might be common knowledge that Nassau County is in bad financial shape and could ill afford to have its residents foot the bill on a new arena or a redevelopment project around the Nassau Coliseum, but there is no reason to beat around the bush and give fans hope if Nassau County can’t possibly support the stay of the Islanders. All hope may not be lost, but if Nassau County and its politicians keep giving the same cursory progress reports on the situation, then Islanders fans and the hockey world can only assume that the team’s time in Long Island is running thin.