Matt Moulson’s words were blunt and powerful.
“Charles had made it pretty clear that he’s passionate about staying in Long Island. I don’t know how much more the guy can do,” the Islanders left wing said during Wednesday’s rally to energize Nassau County residents to vote for Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano’s plan to build a new Nassau Coliseum. The vote is scheduled for Monday.
The Islanders were represented at the rally by Moulson, owner Charles Wang, defenseman Ty Wishart and goaltender Rick DiPietro. Mangano and labor leaders were in attendance as well.
An Islanders spokesperson estimated that 2,800 attended — many chanting “Build it now!”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Islanders officials and Mangano have been steadfast that the team will not play in the Coliseum after the lease expires following the 2015 season.
Wang and Mangano have said Long Island would no longer be a viable place for families to live if the current Coliseum closes and the Islanders are forced to move. Nassau Coliseum is the second oldest arena in the NHL behind Madison Square Garden. The Garden is undergoing massive renovations and is expected to be completed by 2013-14.
Mangano unveiled a study in a late June press conference at the coliseum with Wang.
The Camoin Associates report said $1.2 billion in revenue, 1,515 construction jobs and 3,040 permanent jobs would be created if residents voted for the building. Mangano also announced that the Islanders will pay 11.5 percent of every dollar earned, and that the franchise and county had agreed to a new lease that would keep the team on Long Island through 2045.
Mangano’s plan calls for the County to use $400 million to build the building. The County Executive has termed the expenditure “an investment” in Nassau County. Opponents of the plan have complained that residents will face a tax hike.
Wang has publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with the politics surrounding the proposed new building. Wang complained that Democrats were in favor of the Lighthouse Project when Tom Suozzi was the County Executive but now are adamantly against Mangano’s vision for the new building.
Both sides voiced their opinions in interviews with Mike Francesa on WFAN Tuesday afternoon. Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who supported the Lighthouse Project, expressed his belief that Nassau County residents should not pay for the new building. He estimated that residents would pay an additional $58 a year in taxes and that it would take “a year-and-a-half” to build a new building and could be privately funded.
Wang disputed Jacobs’ arguments, stating that it takes “at least 30 months” to raise a new building and quoted a report that said “a worst-case scenario” residents would pay an additional $13.80 a year in taxes.
Mangano scoffed when asked by Metro New York about Jacobs’s assertions.
“Where’s the deal? He had 10 years [when] his party was in charge, he was running the show. He brought nothing that got completed. Where’s the deal? Bring it forward,” Mangano said.
The County Executive hinted at a fallback plan should the vote not pass. “We would have to explore other options. Obviously there is other property here but this option that keeps the Islanders and builds on this concept of a great sports and entertainment destination. It’s the ability to save 2,100 jobs and create 3,000. This is the way to go.”
Wang’s estimated the new building would be used more than 200 times a year and would seat 17,500 for hockey and 19,000 for concerts.