The Yankees and Mets have new stadiums. The Jets and the Giants have one, too. The Devils have a new building in Newark; Madison Square Garden is undergoing a major renovation; and a new arena is rising in Brooklyn for the Nets. And then there's the Islanders, still stuck in decrepit old Nassau Coliseum. The much-discussed Lighthouse Project — which would have included a renovated arena for the Islanders — never came to fruition. And though the team has said it will honor its lease, which runs through 2015 — and although owner Charles Wang has said he wants to keep the team on Long Island — there's a reason Rangers fans have added taunts of "Kan-sas City" to their anti-Islanders repertoire.
Which brings us to tomorrow, when Nassau County executive Edward P. Mangano will announce a plan to build "a world-class sports-entertainment destination center," as well as plans to "pursue the construction of an Indian gaming casino." Beyond that, the specifics are not yet known, though a Newsday report about support for a casino at Belmont Park said that the county also "appears to be close to working out a plan to develop the Coliseum minus a casino in a proposal that could be put to voters this summer." From that report:
Two people with knowledge of the deal said a bond referendum for as much as $400 million is being contemplated, and could include redevelopment of the Coliseum and a minor-league baseball field at Mitchel Field.
In any case, we'll find out tomorrow exactly what the county is planning to do — but it's a safe bet the Islanders are involved. Owner Charles Wang is expected to attend; the announcement is posted on the team's website; and a "Notice to Islanders fans" mentions that the event — taking place at the Coliseum — is open to the public. Those Islanders fans deserve a better building than the one they've got — really, no one deserves to watch their home games in that place — but there's a difference between announcing plans for a new or renovated building (again, assuming that's part of tomorrow's event) and getting the thing built. Writes Lighhouse Hockey:
Am I excited? Yes. Am I totally reserving judgment and keeping my hopes at basement minimum? Absolutely yes. Depending on where you put the milepost, a proper replacement for Nassau [gloriously unsponsored] Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been a major issue for three, 10, 15, 20 and yes 25 years. Every Islanders fan young and old has been put through the ringer, largely with forces far beyond their control doing the ringing.
But this is all getting a little ahead of things. We'll know a lot more tomorrow — both in terms of the plans and who's going to pay for it all.