Saturday, April 25, 2015

As NHL Commissioner questions Nassau Coliseum likelihood for Islanders stint, transcript shows Yormark misleadingly said question would be resolved last year

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, apparently spooked by previous plans to revamp/replace the Nassau Coliseum that ran aground, yesterday said "I'm not sure it's fair to give the fans -- even the people who live in Nassau County -- any hope that something's coming next,"
according to Newsday's Jim Baumbach.

"I'm not going to engage with Nassau politicians on any of that," Bettman said. "They, at least to this point, they've had their time to do what has to be done. If something else materializes, you know, we can all deal with it at the time. But I'm not focused on anything going on because the track record is terrible."

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, noting the planned renovations led by Barclays Center developer Bruce Ratner, countered,: "I believe that if Mr. Bettman likes the Barclays Center, he will similarly like the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum."

I think it's certain that the Nassau Coliseum will be renovated. More in question is whether Ratner's promise that the Islanders will play two exhibition games and four regular-season games there each year. 

As Bettman noted, it's too early to ask for or grant permission, nor would he speculate on whether it would be approved.

The 2013 discussion, and a misleading promise

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark expressed near-certainty about the six-game stint at a 9/23/13 Nassau Legislature hearing, as shown in the transcript at right.

Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton stated: "There's a letter that I have a copy of from [then Islanders owner] Mr. [Charles] Wang which is dated June 6th which just states that he is ready to commit to the six Islander games annually at the Coliseum subject to the NHL approval. Do you know if we were able to obtain that approval?"

Ratner responded that it had not yet been proposed, and Yormark seconded that.

"We feel very confident that the Dolans [Rangers owners] are going to want hockey back here," Yormark said. "They're good citizens from Long Island and we've got to give them more credit than thinking that they won't allow it to happen. So between the NHL and the Dolans, we think we'll get that done for sure."

"But as of right now we don't have a firm commitment on the six games yet?" DeRiggi-Whitton asked.

"We don't and we didn't expect to have it now," Yormark responded. "We expected it to be an ongoing process over the next couple of months." That meant by early 2014.

Actually, as we now know, that process could not launch until the Coliseum gets renovated.

As Newsday reported, if the Islanders don't play in Nassau, the contract would require Ratner to pay Nassau County $1 million more each year in rent--apparently the expected revenue.

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