At least that's what I came away thinking after listening to Charles Wang's interview with "Mike and the Mad Dog" last week. First, let me say this. The Fan is often criticized for lacking hockey coverage. And while that criticism may have some merit, Russo and Francesa came to the Coliseum and put forth a great lineup of programming. Their questions were insightful, and if they have limited knowledge of the Islander organization and team, it did not show. In fact, I saw Francesa entering the arena at the last home game I attended on another evening all together. So kudos to them for doing a bang up job.
Their interview with Wang, which dealt extensively with the Lighthouse Project was enlightening, and is the source of my post tonight. The Islander owner indicated that the team is currently waiting on approval from the Town of Hempstead to move forward on the Lighthouse project. Following that approval, the project would go back to Nassau County for the final green light. The decision from Hempstead is expected as early as this Summer, and if all goes perfectly, construction will begin on the current Coliseum in July 2009.
However, anyone following these proposals is aware that this is easier said than done. First, when asked by Russo, Wang indicated that the Islanders will never have to play at another arena during construction. If all goes as planned and renovation of NVMC begins July '09, the lower bowl only will be renovated in the off season and the Isles will play many of their first games on the road, similar to the Devils this year. The remaining work on the upper bowl will be completed in the following off season. Russo seemed a little incredulous that such work can be completed over 4 months in two consecutive Summers. Seems like a tall order to me as well.
Further discussion was devoted to the overall magnitude of the Lighthouse. Sports facilities, residences, hotels, office space and canals are envisioned. Mr. Wang thought it is integral to the overall development of Long Island as a whole that this project include all of these elements. The only problem is, as much as the scope of their ambition sounds impressive, it also makes is seem harder to achieve. Could approval from the relevant government bodies have been easier if we were simply building a new arena? I don't know.
And finally, the scary part. When asked by Mike if the Coliseum would be renovated if the Lighthouse project does not go through, Wang said it was very unlikely. And the obvious inference, which Wang would not comment on, was the possibility of the Isles having to leave Long Island if his overall project fails. So every Islander fan better hope that we'll all be skating on a frozen canal in Uniondale in Winter 2010. Otherwise, we can all get fitted for our Flyer jerseys.
After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.