It was just after 11:30 p.m. Monday night when Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and New York Islanders owner Charles Wang began the unpleasant task of walking to the room where media, business and union leaders and grassroots employees waited for them to publicly acknowledge what was already known.
The grim looks etched on Wang’s and Mangano’s faces reiterated the evident — Nassau County residents would not allow their tax dollars to be used to build a new arena.
The reaction from residents to Mangano’s $400 million arena plan was overwhelmingly negative.
Fifty-seven percent of the 1,158 votes cast Monday were against Mangano’s publicly funded Nassau Coliseum. With results from two precincts remaining to be tabulated, the gap between votes against and for the arena was 21,560.
Conciliatory after the defeat, Mangano said “we will find a path that brings people together. We have suffered for 10 years not being able to come together. I am so confident that we will find a way.”
Mangano and Wang are concerned about the future viability of Nassau County as a public and private sector region and an area to raise families if the Islanders leave. Equally as important to Wang, is what will happen to the Islanders?
Wang has repeatedly stated he will honor the lease that keeps the team in the Nassau Coliseum until 2015. But he’s also said he’ll consider options.
Those could include selling the franchise or relocation. Wang didn’t comment on that Monday.
“We have a season to concentrate on with a team that is bursting with a young corps of talent,” Wang said.