Let's face it, when your home arena is known as the Mausoleum, there's probably good reason to ask for another one. Islanders owner Charles Wang has been doing just that since buying the team in 2000, but there's been very little progress toward a new building. That's why a TSN report about the Islanders signing to play an exhibition game in Kansas City against the Kings should make Islander fans nervous about their team's future.
In 2007, the CEO of AEG, which owns the Sprint Center in Kansas City, offered the Penguins free rent if they relocated the franchise from Pittsburgh. The Penguins were desperate for a new arena at the time, and the city fathers were itching to give it to them. That's exactly how things are playing out in Long Island right now.
There's a plan called the Lighthouse Project on the boards right now, which would create a residential, commercial and entertainment complex on the site of the current Nassau Coliseum. The project, according to their web site, wouldn't cost Nassau County anything, but would provide thousands of jobs and increased tax revenues. The major drawback is the way that tax revenue is apportioned among surrounding communities as a result of expected increases in traffic congestion, noise pollution and other problems created by its construction.
While the project sounds like a winner for the region overall, it's worth wondering if it will make any difference to the Islanders. There are myriad entertainment options in Long Island and in New York City, of which the Islanders have long rated somewhere around a local bingo night. A new arena would likely mean higher prices for tickets and concessions, and wouldn't do much to spur interest in a team that's an afterthought to many locals.
That said, there are people who care deeply about the Islanders and it will take a project like this to keep them as part of the local landscape. As the Kansas City deal makes clear, there are other options for Wang if he should choose to cut ties to Long Island.