Going back even further, to 2002 when Ellman was still involved and the [Coyotes were] being used solely as a real estate play, this Forbes profile of the situation paints an equally grim picture of a group taking advantage of an apparently naive city council in order to get a state-of-the-art arena built.
>>James Mirtle, From the Rink
With so much information and opinion flowing around the Coyotes' situation, you can already see the general message board meme of "Canada=good, U.S. market=bad" getting a new bit of fodder: Some hockey fans are going to look back at prescient information like the above Mirtle quote and incorrectly apply it to Long Island, to imply that Charles Wang and the Islanders are trying to do to the Town of Hempstead what Steve Ellman did in Glendale when the 'Yotes couldn't get a building done downtown.
While the Lighthouse project does indeed place the Islanders as part of a real estate play -- the club can't seem to work on the current site any other way -- and while one might find reasons to believe the Town of Hempstead powers are a tad naive, Charles Wang is not asking the taxpayers to build him an arena so he can cash out.
Let me rephrase that, for the helicopter observers (h/t 7th Woman): Charles Wang is not asking the taxpayers to build him an arena, period.
He's asking a public body to allow him to redevelop the decaying arena that public body owns/has jurisdiction over but cannot afford to renovate itself; and to make it worth his while (that's the real estate play), he's asking that they allow him to develop the land around it, too.
We can debate the competence of the owners or the long-term benefit of investing or building around pro sports teams. We can debate whether the process is too fast or too slow. And we can debate the right course for using that land for public benefit (as has been debated for what, 20 years now?). But other than the reminder that pro sports is a big-money, big-risk business that plays off passion, competing public entities and a ample supply of mob mentality, the Coyotes situation doesn't tell us much about the Islanders.
On that note, some very interesting observations about the Coyotes situation, courtesy of some bloggers who have a keen interest in how less-than-stellar ownership can determine the fate of a less-than-natural hockey market:
Birdwatchers Anonymous (Thrashers blog) sums up in a nutshell how the Coyotes got here, which tells us that the problem might not be the Phoenix market -- but rather every management disaster since the team first moved there.
- On the Forecheck (Predators blog) explores why, despite his heroic image in Canada -- which he's nakedly trying to leverage -- Jim Balsillie displays disturbing business traits that maybe don't make him such an ideal owner. (Query: Suppose the NHL is open to an inevitable second team in the Toronto area one day, but knows -- given the power of Leafs owner MLSE -- it should choose the owner of that prize very, very carefully. What, then, would you say to the league's reluctance to hand the keys to that golden goose over to "My way or my way" Balsillie? The guy whose apparent bucket list betrays a sense of entitlement to own an NHL team when and where he wants it? Eh?
- On that note, as referenced above, James Mirtle explores parts of Jerry Moyes' history that tell me, at least, that Moyes doesn't deserve much sympathy for getting himself into this mess.
- Speaking of owners getting themselves into a mess, Charles Wang surely did that when he rescued the Islanders, which is why he's itching for a resolution. But Chris Botta has another take on why the Coyotes and Islanders situations are not alike.