Just when New York Islander fans began to feel somewhat secure that they were rooting for a hockey team, not just a TV program and a leverage piece for a real estate deal, the bottom fell out. The team’s new owners do not seem all that much different from the team’s previous ownership groups, those of Howard Millstein and Charles Wang. The National Hockey League franchise was part of an overall portfolio that would have been a linchpin to develop 77 acres of land in Uniondale, New York, suburban Nassau County to develop an arena-village complete with offices and housing. Millstein failed in 1997 to get a new arena in Nassau County and Wang failed in 2010. Wang moved his team to Brooklyn. He sold the team to Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin two years ago but was majority owner until July 1. He is part of the Ledecky-Malkin group.
There have been numerous reports over the past few days that the Ledecky-Malkin group is not thrilled with the Brooklyn set up and are kicking the tires in Queens. It is possible that they are looking at a tract of land adjacent to Fred Wilpon’s Mets stadium, possibly in Elmont on the Queens-Nassau border at Belmont Park. Wilpon floated an arena proposal a few years back and apparently controls land near his park for development. The North American Soccer League’s New York Cosmos want to put a stadium by Belmont. The Belmont site has been dangled by New York State for a few years but nothing has materialized. Ledecky-Malkin might also be trying to get improvements in Brooklyn.
The entire 44-year history of the New York Islanders franchise has been tied to real estate starting with the granting of a team to Nassau County by the NHL to keep the upstart rival World Hockey Association out of the New York market in 1972. It’s not all about sports, it is about the house the owner owns.
By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.