UPDATED at 9:30 am
THE RESISTANCE: This morning at railroad stations across Nassau, residents handed out literature with the headline, “Vote No on the Coliseum tax.” The central image was an Islanders logo with an X through it.
New York State Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs plays the Prince of Darkness role, saying there is no point to his party putting resources into a campaign for a NO vote because – I’m paraphrasing – there’s no chance in hell the arena deal will ever get passed by a supermajority in the Legislature.
The Islanders should have a clearer understanding now of what they’re up against. They must be ready now to get serious about a first-rate PR blitz. Mike Mottau speaking in the Borelli’s parking lot does not get the job done.
9:55 pm: The Aug. 1 referendum for a new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is happening. There is no more uncertainty. Not even the Nassau Interim Finance Authority can stop the vote. The $2.4 million needed to finance the vote will not come from a contract that NIFA has to approve, but instead is a mere budget transfer to cover Board of Elections costs. Keep in mind also that Charles Wang will reimburse the County for the total cost of the election if a shovel is allowed to break ground on a new arena. The only possible contract might be for trucking to move the voting machines throughout the Nassau County polling stations, but this will not get in the way of the referendum taking place.
So if you were anticipating an act of God or George Marlin before writing in the Aug. 1 date on the family dry-erase board at home, the waiting is over. The vote for the future of the NVMC, and the vote for the future of your New York Islanders, is actually going to take place on Aug. 1.
After careful consideration of all of the facts and rhetoric, the Point Blank household vote is going to be a YES. I will encourage my relatives, friends, neighbors and associates residing in Nassau to also vote YES, and my recommendation is that you do the same.
The details of the deal are easily Googled and can also be found both factually and with an understandable slant at the Islanders’ official team website. Nick Giglia has written a lot on the subject at Let There Be Lighthouse and Freeport resident/Andy Kaufman-of-hockey-bloggers BD Gallof has opined plenty on his Twitter feed. The invaluable Lighthouse Hockey no doubt will provide continuing coverage and essential links. Although the county and team’s PR campaign has been fairly tame and quiet so far, the buzz is that some particularly big things are planned in the week leading up to the vote.
I have little interest in trying to make a case for and against an annual tax bill of $58 (or less…or more) or arguing whether Mike Picker’s projected revenues (certified by an independent company!) are accurate. If the numbers provided by the Islanders’ group and Nassau are the work of too much imagination and late-night booze and turn out to be off by 33%, I still won’t regret my YES vote and I don’t believe anyone else should either.
My family’s votes are to keep the New York Islanders in Nassau County.
My family’s votes are for a new arena, which is how it should have been from the beginning – Lighthouse or no Lighthouse. (And yes, I said this many times to those way above me in the staff directory when I was an Islanders executive).
My family’s votes are for the 2,100 citizens of New York that drew a paycheck of some kind over the last year by working at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and for the countless thousands of others who will be put to work building, preparing and servicing a potential new one.
My family’s votes are a response to the words of the respected Legislator Kevan Abrahams, who said on SNY PB TV that if voter turnout on Aug. 1 is strong and YES wins by an impressive majority, he and his colleagues will absolutely listen to the power of the people.
I believe Abrahams, a key Democrat from the Nassau Legislature. Far more importantly, I’m told the Islanders and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano believe him too. If, like me, you are for this deal – for keeping the Islanders here and seeing that asphalt developed into something useful – you will accept Abraham’s challenge and line up all the registered voters in your life to vote YES.
Do not make the mistake of taking Aug. 1 for granted. Do not make the mistake of taking a landslide victory for granted. Do not make the mistake of thinking others will carry the vote for you. If Judy Jacobs sees only a couple hundred in her district voted YES, it is not going to change her NO when the supermajority is required.
The vote should win, as I’ve said since the day this plan was first announced. But make no mistake: many Nassau residents have marked Aug. 1 on their calendars with the intention of driving to their polling stations and voting no. This blog sees more than 20 emails a day from registered voters against the project. (Some are even polite and well-articulated!)
Do not assume anything NIFA might do. Marlin does not speak for the entire group. There needs to be a leap of faith that the rest of the Authority is not made up of narcissists who give premature and unethical interviews to get their names in the paper, even after they are told by their colleagues not to speak publicly about the Coliseum deal.
Charles Wang is a good man and a titan of Long Island industry. He saved the Islanders eleven years ago, it can be said without any debate. I’m sure he wishes the team won more in its two incarnations in the Wang Era – the retool-on-the-fly playoff years of 2001-2007 and the Garth Snow rebuild, which appears close to fruition with a few major additions, proper development, good health and a solidified future that could come with a finalized arena agreement.
It’s not like Wang hasn’t wanted to win more, or tried to win more. He gave it his best shot in 2001, green-lighting the acquisition of several key veterans to spur a mini-revival in Islanders Country. Four opening round departures didn’t cut it. But if you were around on Opening Night after 9-11 or for the first home playoff games in seven years, you know what the old barn on Hempstead Turnpike felt like. You know what Wang made possible and kept trying to make possible for a half-decade despite unimaginable losses. Ryan Smyth didn’t sign and now you’re witnessing the slow and steady rebuild.
While all this has gone on, Wang has spent more than $30 million of his own money on the planning, marketing and designing of the Lighthouse Project that never got built and on the resources needed to execute and promote the Wangano deal. He’ll probably be in the hole for another mill or two by the time Aug. 1 arrives. Like the rest of us, the man is not perfect. Unlike most of the rest of us, he hasn’t given up yet on the Islanders and Nassau. Only Wang can explain why he has been so determined, stubborn, crazy.
Picker says the alternative to accepting this Plan B is losing the Islanders and losing Nassau County’s 16,000-seat arena. I believe him, too.
I’m not okay with that.
So on behalf of my family – Catherine, Aidan, Luke and Cole Botta of Rockville Centre, Nassau County, Long Island, New York, USA – our vote is YES.
UPDATED at 9:30 am