Corporate Welfare

Nassau County Voters Decline to Pay for Billionaire's Stadium

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Yesterday voters in Nassau County, New York, rejected a proposal to borrow $400 million for renovation of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, home of the New York Islanders. Charles E. Wang, who owns the NHL team, had offered to pay the cash-strapped county, which is expected to have a $143 million budget deficit this year, $2 million to cover the cost of the special election, but only if the bond measure passed. By a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent, voters rejected the bribe, rebelling at the notion of paying 4 percent more in property taxes to finance Wang's vision of a newly refurbished venue for his team. Wang, a billionaire who co-founded Computer Associates International, pronounced himself "heartbroken." The New York Times notes that "many Republicans [including Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano] supported the plan, along with construction unions and some land-use groups," whereas "Democrats, fiscal conservatives and developers generally opposed the plan, saying the county should not go further in debt to help Mr. Wang."

More on the folly of publicly funded stadiums here

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  1. It was a nightmare stadium!

    1. Attracting unarmed citizens!

    2. Cops Vs. Athletes on Ice!

      1. Unarmed citizens!

  2. Victory! Voters tell Billionaire to pay for his own toys!

    1. He didn’t become a billionaire by paying for his own stadiums, now did he?

    2. So now we keep watch to see how the govt. & Wang go about using public money to renovate the stadium anyway.

      1. Seattle feels their pain.

      2. Yeah, don’t celebrate until it’s over.

        1. It’s never over.

      3. That’s what happened in Charlotte.

        The city put the question to a vote, the voters rejected city financing for a basketball stadium. The politicians decided they knew better and increased taxes to pay for the stadium anyway, even though they already had a perfectly good stadium only about 10 years old at the time (since demolished).

  3. Wang should’ve spent the money on a better team.

    No one’s cared about the Islanders, a once great franchise, in nearly three decades.

    1. Mike Bossy was a true class act.

  4. For the amount of money Wang has lost running the team while attempting to convince the county to build him a new arena, he could have built a new arena when he bought the team back in 2004.

    1. Mr. V, you speak with unwavering accuracy. Touch? and thanks for saving me the extra typing. Well, now that I have some free time … this is a lesson I like to pass along, that it’s usually easier/cheaper/etc. to just take care of business than make excuses, avoid the work, or try to get others to do it for you. Take that, ya Wanger! (Not YOU, Mr. V.)

  5. Wang, a billionaire who co-founded Computer Associates International, pronounced himself “heartbroken.”

    I’d be pretty sad, too, if I had just been denied $400 million.

  6. I’m pleasantly amazed that Nassau county residents didn’t fuck this one up. Oddly enough there was a huge hailstorm in western Nassau. Traffic was a disaster, and tons of cars had their windows busted from it (forget how many dings and dents are from it).

    Mother nature said no to hockey by raining ice on the populace.

    1. I see what you did there!

  7. Nassau County Voters Decline to Pay for Billionaire’s Stadium

    These terrorists won’t let us spend!

  8. Go Nordiques! Quebec City is building a nice new taxpayer funded arena for him.

    1. Nordiques…Nordiques…that sounds familiar. Didn’t they have to leave the original home of hockey for the philistine shores of America before they managed to get decent fan base and win a couple of Stanley Cups?

      1. Yes, they became the Colorado Avalanche and won two Stanley Cups, the first one the same year they moved.

        They had a decent fan base, and a good rivalry with Montreal, but the weak Canadian dollar made it difficult for them financially.

        1. ….and they played in a crappy little arena not unlike the Nassau Mausoleum.

          1. Once they lost Lindros, the Nordiques’ fate was sealed.

            1. Yes, that is true. Must have killed their old fans to see them win a Stanley Cup their first season in Colorado mainly because of the players they acquired in the Lindros deal.

      2. The Nordiques drew fine; their problem (like most Canadian franchises at the time) was the exchange rate.

        Now that the Canadian dollar is at parity with the US dollar, a Canadian franchise looks pretty good. Why do you think there’s a team back in Winnipeg now?

    2. The lease the Islanders have on the current facility goes through 2015, and a 1998 court ruling held that the most important obligation on the Islanders’ side is the Islanders actually playing there. So, if the Islanders want to break the lease and move, they don’t just have to go ahead and pay for the remaining years on the lease; they would also have to pay additional compensation to Nassau for not playing there.

      Which means they probably aren’t going anywhere in the near-future, and if they do, Nassau County gets a nice check for it.

  9. “many Republicans [including Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano] supported the plan, along with construction unions and some land-use groups,” whereas “Democrats, fiscal conservatives and developers generally opposed the plan, saying the county should not go further in debt to help Mr. Wang.”

    Those damn democrats are always trying to…oh, wait.

    1. Nassau County. Everybody knows Yankee Republicans are liberal commie fags.

      1. Yeah, like Peter King

      2. Liberal commie fags. What an enlightened sentiment. And you wonder why more…you know what, just forget it.

        1. Liberal commie fags. What an enlightened sentiment. And you wonder why more…you know what, just forget it.

          Why more liberal commie fags keep taking us off their Christmas card list?

          You know you wanted to say it.

        2. But on a serious note, how does “liberal commie fag” stack up to “christfags”?

          1. They are the same and both are welcome.

            1. But on a serious note, how does “liberal commie fag” stack up to “christfags”?

              It stacks up well, especially because I don’t have to listen to that annoying asshole Shreek for once.

              1. +1, if I do say so myself.

    2. I’m sure the fact that the beneficiary being a billionaire has nothing to do with it.

      I’m sure without that little fact they still wouldn’t be willing to spend other people’s money, because that’s just not the Democrats’ style.

      1. So we shouldn’t encourage them when they do something “good” because their motives aren’t pure?

  10. I want to be optimistic about this, but I think it’s less a repudiation of stadium subsidies in general and more rejection of Charles Wang in particular.

    Yesterday on Twitter, Greg Wyshynski (of big Y! Sports hockey blog Puck Daddy) asked an earnest question about whether there were anti-tax Tea Party-supporting Islanders fans out there, and how they were voting. Most of the responses I saw were some variation of “hockey love before politics!”

    1. “I want to be optimistic about this, but I think it’s less a repudiation of stadium subsidies in general and more rejection of Charles Wang in particular.”

      I suspect they might have done better–if the Islanders weren’t among the most pathetic franchises in the NHL.

      They worse than stink.

      The Florida Panthers are better than the Islanders. Edmonton’s way better–they’ve got some great young talent. The Islanders?

      It’s a shame what they’ve done to that franchise too–they were a great team when I was growin’ up in the ’80s.

      1. Exactly. It’s hard to explain to non-hockey fans what a punchline they’ve become. It just goes to show the cyclical nature of these things, I guess.

        I was pleasantly surprised (again, on the Twitter) to see how many hockey-mad folks offered condolences to the remaining Islanders die-hards paired with exasperation about public stadium funding in general.

        1. It’s easy to be a fan of a winning team.

          The real hardcore fans are the ones who are out there still buying season tickets to teams in financial trouble.

          My hat’s off to the Phoenix Coyotes fans and the Atlanta Thrashers fans–the fans they had left at the end were the hardest core hockey fans there are. It’s easy to cheer on a winning team.

          People who cheer on their teams even after the team ownership has given up on its fans? Those are the real hockey fans. They just love the game.

          1. Hmm, last I checked, the Islanders had a better record than both Florida and Edmonton last year. As for young talent, if you actually knew anything about hockey, you’d know about John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Travis Hamonic, etc.

            1. Florida is the NHL’s most pathetic franchise. They have not made the playoffs since 2000. The Oilers made a good Cup run a few years ago.

            2. “Hmm, last I checked, the Islanders had a better record than both Florida and Edmonton last year.”

              Islanders: Wins 30, Losses 39, OT 13

              Panthers: Wins 30, Losses 40, OT 12

              You think one OT better than the Panthers makes the Islanders that much better?

              Get over yourself.

              “As for young talent, if you actually knew anything about hockey, you’d know about John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Travis Hamonic, etc.”

              Tavares had 69 points last year–and his +/- weighed in at -16.

              …which is pretty standard for him, considering that the year before he finished out at -15.

              Oh, and if Edmonton called up the Islanders and offered them Taylor Hall, Eberle and Hemsky for Tavares, Grabner and Hamonic?

              The Islanders would pinch themselves to see if they were dreaming.

              The Islanders don’t just suck–they supersuck.

              Even Nabokov comin’ from the KHL knows they suck. …and if you believe what he said the other day? Then I’ve got some waterfront property next to the Panthers arena in Florida I’d like to sell you.

              1. The Islanders will win their division next year.

                They were the best team in the conference in the second half of last year.

                That record is largely the result of a massive losing streak under Scott Gordon’s abortion of a system in the beginning of the year.

                I guarantee you they have a better record than Edmonton next year.

              2. BTW, Tavares’ 67 points would have made him the leading scorer on Edmonton…by 24 points.

                The Islanders had 6 players who would have led Edmonton in scoring.

                Screw Nabokov; I’d rather see Montoya play 40 games next year and see what happens.

                1. “BTW, Tavares’ 67 points would have made him the leading scorer on Edmonton…by 24 points.”

                  Hall, Eberle and Hemsky all had their seasons cut short by injuries–Hemsky had 42 points in 47 games…

                  Both Eberle and Hall were rookies last year–but their +/- wasn’t as bad as Tavares’…on a team that scored fewer goals than the Islanders.

                  So…puh-lease!

      2. Garth Snow is a terrible GM.

      3. Hey, a little respect, “WE’RE #122”.

  11. Isn’t it time for another Kelly Thomas post?

    1. As long as six murdering police officers walk the streets of Fullerton, it’s always time for a Kelly Thomas post.

      1. Hear, hear… and speaking of hearing, I can’t get his voice out of my mind, where he’s calling for “Dad, Dad” — I swear, it’s making me weep all over again. I’m mad, sure, but I’ve been mad about this since 1968 when this 15-year-old got thumped at a Stanford protest. Let’s not get into what happened in 1970 on University Ave. (if you were there, write to me!)… Anyway, it finally got to me just this afternoon, great heaving sobs reminding me of when I, too, cried for my Dad, in fear of my life… enough, here I go again, jeez. I think I will forever refer to the Kelly Thomas incident as the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. I am very, very sad about this. It was murder, pure and simple — did y’all see the MTA video? hear the conversations of the people? That’s called “eyewitness testimony,” and the FBI (which likes to pull rank on cops) will get it all. NO PAID VACATIONS FOR PUNISHMENT. Prosecute them, period.

        1. Sorry to waste bandwidth on the wrong thread… I will move to the right ones. It just got the best of me. I keep hearing, “Dad! Dad!” and it’s breaking my goddam heart, I gotta tell you. Oh, man…

          1. I’m avoiding watching that particular video because I know his voice would haunt me, too.

  12. Man, if only we could get some good news like this in Los Angeles WRT the NFL.

    1. The Chargers could move to LA, but I’d hate to see that happen.

      That Chargers/Raiders rivalry is still in effect. And I don’t see all those Raider fans suddenly switching sides.

      1. Chargers ownership wants their own Tax Mahal in San Diego. Plus there is no NFL relocation fee or big slice of ownership cut out.

        1. That’s why it should make a ton of sense for them to move up the freeway.

          I don’t think people realize how different LA culture is from San Diego culture though. If they move, they should try to find a place in Orange County.

          I think the Chargers are especially peeved because of the what the Padres got. That’s a beautiful baseball stadium, and it did so much for downtown. I used to work security at some of the clubs down there back in the ’80s–that area looked like a Gotham city hellhole before the stadium went in…

          So the Charges see what the baseball stadium did–probably the most successful redevelopment effort centered around a city sponsored sports complex in recent memory–and they don’t understand why they can’t get the same deal.

          …anyway, as the NFL strike and the recent budget negotiations in Congress show, people don’t really negotiate on these things until they have no other choice. When push comes to shove, we’ll see how things shake out. …but I have a hard time imagining the Chargers really leaving for a dicey future in LA, when they have that affluent San Diego market all to themselves.

          They don’t even have to compete with professional basketball or hockey!

          1. Or even semi-pro baseball.

            Stadium deals aren’t getting done anywhere in California these days. I think if LA really could do it, they’d probably pull the Raiders back. Why would they move to Santa Clara to share with the 49ers instead of back to where the fan base would welcome them?

            And this is one of the few things California has done right the last few years. If an NFL executive was on fire, I’d cross the street and piss in the gutter before I’d do anything to help him.

            1. I don’t see why the race of the fans make a difference–but the fact is that the Raiders/Chargers rivalry is still in effect. And LA’s fans don’t like the Chargers (or the Padres).

              I grew up in D.C., and it would be like if the Dallas Cowboys suddenly decided to move to D.C. They think I’m about to become Cowboys fan–just ’cause they moved to my home town?!

              The Chargers moving to LA would be like that–better go to Anaheim.

              In the meantime, I don’t think there any football teams that are really in big trouble financially right now–except maybe in Buffalo. But they’ve already got one foot in Toronto. If the NFL wants to put a team in LA, they should just give them an expansion team.

              Moving teams sucks. I grew up in a small town about halfway between D.C. and Baltimore–the first Christmas present I remember getting was a Johnny Unitas uniform with pads and the helmet and the whole thing.

              I’ll never forget the night they left in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

              They should have left their name behind. It’s sad when anybody loses a team. …and there’s no need for it. If they move the team to LA, they should call the Chargers something else–and give San Diego an expansion team. …and call them the Chargers. Just like they did with Cleveland.

              I’m glad Baltimore didn’t do to Cleveland what Indianapolis did to Baltimore. Indianapolis fans should be ashamed of themselves.

              1. “I’m glad Baltimore didn’t do to Cleveland what Indianapolis did to Baltimore. Indianapolis fans should be ashamed of themselves.”

                The professional football team in Indianapolis moved out of Baltimore because the city wouldn’t spring for a big stadium upgrade in the middle of a tough economy. …not because Baltimore couldn’t support a team.

                And the Colts at the time they left had been horribly neglected–much like the Islanders today.

                1. I thought they moved because Maryland threatened to take the team by eminent domain.

                  That’s why they had to move in the middle of the night, so that everything would be gone before Big Government could gets its greedy mitts all over the stuff.

                  1. “I thought they moved because Maryland threatened to take the team by eminent domain.”

                    All sorts of threats were made on both sides.

                    Here’s the timeline:

                    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sp…..1536.story

                    Irsay threatened to move the team if the city didn’t spend a load on the stadium–back in 1976.

                    For seven years he tried to hit the people of Baltimore and Maryland up for free money–and spent nothing on the team. This was all pre-salary cap of course.

                    Anyway, he asked the state legislature for $25 million to refurbish the stadium–the legislature passed a bill giving him $23 million on the condition that the Colts signed a long term lease…

                    Seems like a reasonable request, doesn’t it? I’m not gonna spend $23 million (in circa 1980 dollars) if you’re not willing to commit to using the facility?

                    Irsay refused to sign a long term lease.

                    At that point the State of Maryland had spent a ton of money on the Colts–I’m not sure they would have been wrong to insist on getting that money back. If they weren’t the State, they wouldn’t have tried eminent domain, but would they have lost in court? I don’t know. I was just a kid, and I haven’t seen the documents.

                    I do know that Irsay refused to sell Maryland the rights to the name “Colts”. …and I think he did it just to spite us.

                    I don’t think the owners will ever let another team take a name like that and move to the other side of the country ever again. When the team from Indianapolis plays in Baltimore, the announcers still won’t say the team’s name–they just announce them as “The Professional Football Team from Indianapolis.”

                    The old timers who were already in the Hall of Fame won’t have anything to do with the team in Indianapolis either. Won’t appear at games. Won’t let any of their history be so sullied.

                    All because Irsay couldn’t get the State of Maryland to build a stadium for him with taxpayer money? …am I supposed to feel sorry for him because they passed a bill to try eminent domain?

                    I just don’t.

                2. Go Blue!

                  1. Carpetbagging millionaire parasites, I mean ‘owners’, should be free to strike the best deal the suckers, I mean local tax-hosts, are willing to give them. The NFL would be wise to leave the names and logos behind to promote fan loyalty.

                    1. The names just make one wretch every time one hears ‘Utah Jazz’ or ‘ LA Lakers’

      2. Pass on the Chargers. Too many cholo’s (and Blacks and Gringo’s) in LA still rocking the Silver and Black. I’m thinking Jacksonville would be the best team to relocate to LA. There’s no California “baggage” to sort out. Also, J’ville is located pretty much equidistant to Tampa and Atlanta, so the NFL wouldn’t have a “hole” in the TV coverage. Another (longshot) possibility would be to bring the Rams back to LA.

  13. From now on I am referring to corporate hockey holdings as Big Puck.

  14. To be fair, this particular instance is not a case of a billionaire owner asking for a handout. Nassau County owns Nassau Coliseum. Wang merely wants the building renovated or he (likely) will not renew his lease.

    1. But Wang is involved in a large private redeployment project which is centered around the stadium.

      1. My purpose was purely to highlight the difference between the use of public money to subsidize the construction of a privately-owned stadium and the use of public money to pay for the construction/renovation of a county-owned stadium.

        Both are objectionable, but the former is decidedly worse.

      2. The redevelopment project you’re referring to, the Lighthouse Project, died a year ago at the hands of Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray and her board. They refused to re-zone the land for the amount of residential and retail space Wang and his partners wanted. The stated reason was the preservation of the suburban character of the area. Had the Lighthouse Project been green-lit, it was not intended to cost any public money.

    2. It’s still just plain nuts for a municipality to spend $400 million to retain a team that was last purchased for $187 million (in 2005). The bottom-of-the-league attendance can be partly attributed to the facility, sure, but ranking #22 out of the 24 US teams for television audience? In the #1 TV market in the US?

      1. The Islanders have never been able to compete with the Rangers, despite winning an unheard of 4 consecutive Stanley Cups (80-83). Add the NJ Devils to the mix and the Islanders suffer even more. The main reason the NHL expanded on Long Island in 1972 was to keep the fledgling World Hockey Association from placing a team on the Island.

      2. The Islanders have never been able to compete with the Rangers, despite winning an unheard of 4 consecutive Stanley Cups (80-83). Add the NJ Devils to the mix and the Islanders suffer even more. The main reason the NHL expanded on Long Island in 1972 was to keep the fledgling World Hockey Association from placing a team on the Island.

      3. The Islanders have never been able to compete with the Rangers, despite winning an unheard of 4 consecutive Stanley Cups (80-83). Add the NJ Devils to the mix and the Islanders suffer even more. The main reason the NHL expanded on Long Island in 1972 was to keep the fledgling World Hockey Association from placing a team on the Island.

    3. I have heard that Wang wanted to build or re-build a stadium with his own money. Nassau County has blocked him and insisted that they own the new arena.

      I think the County Executive and Legislature are the bad guys in this one. They have the highest property taxes in the country and are still looking for ways to raise them higher.

  15. See Seatle? This is the kind of shit that happens when you show other cities not to spend on a stadium!!!

    1. Two stadiums… two stadiums. Get it right.

  16. It would have been nice if Sullum had bothered to do some cursory futher research and mention that Wang had been trying for years to get the Town of Hempstead to ok privately funded development of the area, known as the Lighthouse project. But town supervisor Kate Murray and her merry band of NIMBYs did everything they could to let it flounder until they ultimately quashed it.

    But, you know to report that would have added a little nuance, which is in short supply around here.

    1. The propaganda value may have suffered.

  17. It’s actually Charles B. Wang, for whatever that’s worth.

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  19. It’s actually Charles B. Wang, for whatever that’s worth.

  20. It’s a very cool game. I love it!

  21. Heh, heh. That guy’s name is WANG. Heh.

    1. Don’t tell anybody you’re Jewish.

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