By the end of Monday, we'll know a great deal more about the future of the New York Islanders on Long Island and, more specifically, in Nassau County.
Voters there are flocking (?) to the polls on August 1 to vote on a referendum that will allow Isles owner Charles Wang, in partnership with the county, to build a new, state-of-the-art hockey arena on the current site of the dilapidated Nassau Coliseum.
A YES vote from the public would be the first step towards allowing Nassau County to spend $400 million on bonds towards building a new arena. $350 million of that would go towards the arena, while $50 million would go towards a new minor-league baseball stadium. A NO vote would be devastating to the Isles chances of staying on Long Island, and Wang has said before that if that's the case, he'll have to look to other options surrounding the future of his team.
Even with a YES vote on Monday, however, there would still be hurdles to climb. 13 of the 19 members of the Nassau County Legislature, or two-thirds, much vote in favor of borrowing the money to fund the project, and a state oversight committee, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, must also sign off on the deal.
The benefits of a new arena are obvious. For starters, the New York Islanders will continue to play in Nassau County, on the site where they're played for their entire rich history. They new arena would be an economic boon for the area, replacing the incredibly horrible Coliseum with a new state-of-the-art facility. Projects like this tend to create more development, and even better, more jobs. In fact, that's the chief argument by those in the Nassau County government who favor the deal.
County Executive Ed Mangano said last week that, if the Islanders were to leave, it would cost the region $243.4 million in lost sales per year, 2,660 fewer jobs and that the county would lose $7.8 million in tax revenue per year. The argument is simple: it's a tax increase for residents, yes, but it's also an investment in the County.
The reasons against voting YES are just as clear though, as well. You know, there's a reason why that state oversight committee, NIFA, exists, and it's because Nassau County doesn't know how to run its books. For a county that's already in financial hot water, why should they be given more money to play around with, especially when that money is going to support a private business?
Supporters say that building the arena will actually cost taxpayers less money over the next 30 years, in which Wang and the Islanders will pay back the County using revenues generated by the building, than it would cost them if they did nothing and let the Islanders leave -- in the form of losing that revenue and those jobs.
On the flip side, there's a whole lot of people that purely hate the idea of taxpayers paying for a hockey team to have a place to play, no matter what that team brings to the table in supporting the community.
In an odd early-August voting situation like we have here, it's just a matter of who gets out to the polls. That question could be the one that dictates the future of the New York Islanders.
For more on the vote and the team, visit SB Nation's Lighthouse Hockey.