The Bridgeport Sound Tigers have no publicly stated intention of leaving Bridgeport to occupy a future renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum or any other arena, and they have a lease agreement that backs that up.
That doesn't mean speculation won't continue to that effect, given the New York Islanders' 2015-16 move to Brooklyn and the constant town- and franchise-hopping that has long characterized the AHL.
Such speculation heated up when the Isles announced the move to Brooklyn and went into overdrive back in August 2013 at the announcement from Bruce Ratner discussing his winning bid to redevelop the Coliseum after politicians spent a decade preventing Charles Wang from doing the same. That day, Ratner's enthusiasm betrayed him as he all but said the Sound Tigers were on their way.
As Michael Fornabaio of the Connecticut Post previously reported and re-iterated that day, it doesn't quite work that way.
But again, speculation continues. There are a lot of moving parts. The AHL's new division in California and the relocations that fed it has re-ignited the franchise/town-hopping game that has involved the ECHL too.
To that end, Fornabaio's latest feature in the Post really digs into all of the lease details, quotes from ownership, and why the speculation will continue.
In a nutshell, the Sound Tigers have been steadily building support in Bridgeport, and the ownership -- an entity owned by Islanders owner Charles Wang -- is obliged to keep a team at Webster Bank Arena through 2021.
But the thing about AHL teams is...one team vacates, often another steps in. As Fornabaio reports:
"We've had no directive from ownership that we're moving to the Coliseum," said Howard Saffan, the Sound Tigers' president and president of Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, which manages Webster Bank Arena and contractually owes the city a team until 2021. "That's been widely speculated."
It makes sense. Few others, however, think it won't happen, and privately sources in the organization say they expect it.
Read the full story for all the details of why-it-might and why-it-might not. They range from specific lease details -- what does "AHL or better" mean? -- a rare history of stability despite relocation rumors since season one, and the many NHL Metropolitan Division teams who also have history and AHL affiliates in the region.
Of course, the building in Uniondale has to be vacated and rebuilt first, and that's a saga of its own with a history of minor-hockey-like stops and starts.