Newsday reports today that not only have Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Islanders owner Charles Wang discussed building a new arena for the Islanders in Queens, there’s even a chance that Wilpon could buy the team. They’ve got a pretty reliable source for this information: Wilpon himself.
It’s not hard to see why Wang would explore either option: The ambitious Lighthouse Project — which would include a renovated Nassau Coliseum — has moved along at a snail’s pace, and the Town of Hempstead now wants it to be scaled back. In the meantime, Wang’s lost an average of $23 million a year since he bought the team. (NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, by the way, tells Larry Brooks that the league has neither assumed control of the Islanders nor loaned Wang any money.)
A move to Queens would be something of a compromise for the Isles: They’d leave the suburbs for the city — at least they’d technically still be on the actual island of Long Island — but it would keep them away from, say, Kansas City, which is extremely hard to reach via the LIRR. On the other hand, we’re not sure the city proper needs three professional arenas clustered so closely together.
It should be noted that Wilpon has also been in touch with MLS commissioner Don Garber about building a soccer facility, though Wilpon admits they “probably can’t do both.” He also stresses that nothing’s been decided, and that they’re in an “exploratory phase” on both fronts. But he appears serious about expanding the Wilpon Empire beyond just baseball.