On the morning after the Phoenix Coyotes file for bankruptcy, we present yet another unabashed attempt at a reality check for anyone concerned about the New York Islanders.
Frederick P. Clark Associates gives money to Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray’s election campaign. The Town of Hempstead – in Nassau County – chooses the Westchester County planning company as its consultants on the Lighthouse Project. While their work is far from completed, to this date F. P. Clark Associates has rung up bills to the tune of $300,000.
And who is paying Clark’s invoices? Charles Wang and the Lighthouse Development Corporation.
This is the way it works in these development deals. Wang’s group puts money in an escrow account. The Town gets to hire its own consultants, even those who contribute money to the Town Supervisor’s campaign. The developers pay for the consultants out of the escrow. Each time the Town’s consultants declare more work has to be done – without a second opinion, without any accountability – Wang pays.
Of course in this economy, it behooves Frederick P. Clark Associates to take their time.
When the Islanders’ owner has his cranky moments and unloads to Newsday and Boomer and Carton about having regrets, perhaps it is all this Lighthouse check-writing that has brought him to his knees.
Point Blank has learned that Wang has spent more than $16 million this decade on the development of the Coliseum property, a plan Tom Suozzi and the County insisted on. Nine years after Wang purchased the Islanders, he has no promise of a ground-breaking any time soon.
As reported on Sunday by Jim Baumbach of Newsday, Wang has spent about $300 million keeping the Islanders afloat. This number does not include the millions of dollars spent on architects, economists, parking and environmental experts, Lighthouse staff and Frederick P. Clark Associates – the Westchester-based, cash-contributing consultants to the Town of Hempstead.
When Wang says he’s had it and he wants an answer by October 1, this could be at the top of the list of his reasons why.
As for the situation in Phoenix, the question has been asked repeatedly: what does this mean for the Islanders? My take: very little. The Islanders are not for sale. The Islanders are not declaring bankruptcy. The Islanders do not have any plans to move in the near future. Unlike the Coyotes, the Islanders do not have a new arena. Jim Balsillie has not made an offer to buy the Islanders and move them to Southern Ontario.
Above all else, I see nothing in Wang’s commitment to keeping the Islanders on Long Island the last 9 years that tells me he will file for bankruptcy in an attempt to leave Nassau County or sell the team to someone who will move the team.
Yes, the Islanders have the Original Lease From Hell. Yes, they need to see their arena development deal finalized. Yes, the Islanders have their challenges. But what’s going on in Phoenix does not have much to do with what’s going on in New York.
Until Wang gets his answer on the Lighthouse Project, he honors his obligation to just spend, spend, spend.
As always, I want to know your take. Comment Guidelines.