AUGUST 1 WILL DETERMINE ISLANDERS' FATEReferendum on Coliseum goes to Nassau voters

10:15 pm: After August 1, no one will ever be able to say Charles Wang didn’t try everything he could to keep the New York Islanders in Nassau County.

After August 1, no one will ever be able to say Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano didn’t try to save the Islanders.

And yes, after August 1, no one will ever be able to say Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray was a primary culprit in the Islanders leaving Uniondale.

Point Blank has confirmed that Aug. 1 is the scheduled date for the referendum on a bond for a planned sports and entertainment destination center on the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum property. The cost is expected to be $400 million. Nassau County residents will vote yay or nay.

In large part, Taking A Stand is what Wednesday’s press conference is all about. Since the vote is being taken to the people, there won’t be blood on the hands of Wang, Mangano and Murray. Wang has nothing to lose sleep over and will have no guilt; he has been at this – at a loss of tens of millions of dollars on the hockey team, plus his Lighthouse investment – for eleven years. Mangano is doing what he can despite a crippling deficit and having to answer to New York State for his county’s finances. Murray is along for the ride because she cannot lose either way. She stopped the Lighthouse from happening, making her a hero to many. She has said for years that she is all for a new building and little else. If the vote does not pass, Murray will be able to say she did what she could while standing by the Islanders and the County.

There are plenty of reasons for optimism. This is the closest the Islanders have come to getting a new arena…by far. In this economy and after all this time, this can easily be sold in the court of public opinion as the most sensible plan…by far. Although Wang, Murray and Tom Suozzi joined hands in a forced and premature show of unity a few years ago, this is the best illustration that the leaders are trying to work together to save the Islanders and develop the Coliseum site…by far.

Leading up to August 1, there will be strong support and strong opposition. The Democratic minority legislature has already issued a statement of criticism, correctly pointing out that they had a deal with Wang – known as the Lighthouse Project – in which the development would be spectacular and Wang was going to pay for it himself. Mangano’s plan will cost the County. Wang’s Lighthouse would not have. After this, you cannot blame Wang for feeling like he’s done if the vote does not pass.

The challenge, if the Islanders, County and Town choose to accept it, is to get all sides involved and be transparent. Local union leaders – public unions, like the ones that strongly supported the Lighthouse Project at every hearing, as opposed to private unions – as of late Tuesday night had not been invited by Mangano to participate in the press conference. Some professional journalists Tuesday were urged to tweet about the “good news,” leading many fans and residents to believe a new Coliseum was a done deal. It is far from it, which is why Wednesday is a rally (fans are invited, Grabs and some of the boys will be there) as much as a press conference. To get the yays they want, it would be a tragic error if the leaders start to BS anyone.

The media advisory released by the County early Tuesday was honest. It said the event, first reported via Twitter by the Long Island blogger B.D. Gallof, is an “announcement” of a “plan.” That’s news – maybe even hopeful news, but far from good news. Too much work is ahead, too much sales and marketing to counter the political and community activism. The vote has to pass, or it will lead - for the first time, genuinely – to the possibility of the Islanders not just leaving Nassau, but quite possibly leaving New York.

The trio will announce its deal Wednesday. But what Wang, Mangano and Murray really are doing is announcing that they have done their part and will not and can not do anything else. Do not expect any alternatives to be shared if the vote fails.

It’s up to the people now.

I believe the vote will pass, that this is the Islanders’ and the County’s game to lose. Done the right way, Aug. 1 will bring good news to Islanders Country and the residents that have been waiting for the Coliseum property to be developed for a long, long time.

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