Today, August 1st, marks the three year anniversary of the failed referendum vote on August 1st, 2011 which in my mind signed the Islanders death certificate in Nassau County.
This vote would've given the county a new Coliseum, a minor league baseball stadium, as well as an indoor track and field facility. The vote was only open to residents of Nassau County because it would've initially raised their taxes, although, in the long run they would've dropped which was something that wasn't well communicated. The vote wasn't open to any Suffolk county residents. While I understand that, looking back now with the Islanders ready to embark on their final season at the Coliseum I don't feel it was right to close the vote to Suffolk residents. While the residents of Suffolk wouldn't have been monetarily affected, something else very valuable to them would be and will be affected. With no Coliseum, the quality of life of Suffolk residents took a hit as now instead of being able to go to the Coliseum for entertainment they either have to go to New York City or settle for one of the smaller acts that go to Jones Beach or the NYCB Theater in Westbury. This is especially true for families who won't have the opportunity to go to the circus at the Coliseum anymore or shows like Disney on Ice.
People are now saying like it is a foregone conclusion that once the Islanders leave, Bruce Ratner will come in and renovate the Coliseum and we will get a nicer Coliseum anyway. Those people seem to forget that Ratners plan still needs to get all the approvals from the politicians. These are the same politicians that did whatever they could for the last 10 years to block Charles Wang from getting any sort of progress on that front. The politicians cared more about blocking the opposing political party from getting credit for the progress that developing that area would've made rather than doing what was good for the community which is what they are elected to do. After going through what we have, why should we think anything will happen regarding development of the Coliseum? Haven't we been conditioned to believe the worst?
Even if they surprise us and if it does get done, it won’t be up to the dimensions for the NHL so we will be the home of an AHL team possibly the Islanders AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. While that will be all nice and stuff why do we have to settle for minor league? We are playing second fiddle to New York City and while understandable in some aspects why can’t we have an identity in this area? Why can’t we have something that sets us apart, or makes us special? The Nassau Coliseum provided that for us at one point and we had the opportunity to have that again. But, the people who are supposed to be in charge of doing what is right for the community and the county let their egos get in the way to the detriment of everyone else. The need for an identity or focal point on Long Island is one thing Charles Wang repeatedly mentioned during the hearings for the Lighthouse Project before the Town of Hempstead years ago. While I detest the way Wang runs the Islanders from a hockey point of view, that is one thing I agreed with him wholeheartedly on.
Now we sit here, about six weeks before training camp preparing for the final season at Nassau Coliseum. What could’ve been a beautiful thriving area of pride for the people of Long Island will likely turn into a cement wasteland. One day, people who played a part in preventing development there will drive past what will by that time be as said previously simply a barren concrete wasteland with weeds growing everywhere and a boarded up arena. When driving by, those people will think of what was once there and how it brought Long Islanders together and what could’ve been and maybe then it will hit them that they stood in the way of progress and helping not only that one community but all of Long Island.