Islanders Still All About Real Estate

If things work out, the New York Islanders owners will be an arena near the Belmont Racetrack

The New York Islanders National Hockey League franchise has been more about real estate and television than hockey for about four decades. It was Charles Dolan and his Cablevision unit that pumped money into the financially floundering franchise in the late 1970s which among other things was used to keep the team’s best defenseman Denis Potvin from being traded. The Islanders franchise struggles were in part caused by the NBA-ABA merger which cost the Islanders and Nets owner Roy Boe a fortune of money in 1976. According to Bloomberg News, another Dolan, Madison Square Garden boss, Charles’ son James is looking to help Islanders ownership build an arena by Belmont Park near the New York City Nassau County border. Dolan is apparently part of a group that includes long time arena executive Tim Leiweke and the music group Eagles manager Irving Azoff. It was Azoff who recommended Phil Jackson to Dolan to run Dolan’s New York Knicks franchise. Also in the group is New York real estate developer Fred Wilpon whose family happens to own Major League Baseball’s Mets. The project seemingly is being pushed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Dolan’s inclusion is interesting from this prospective. When the Nassau Coliseum arena management lease was being offered by the county, the people who run the Brooklyn arena that houses the Islanders franchise beat out Dolan. Dolan has gotten into the arena business as a concert promoter in the beachhomes fort lauderdale market. In theory, the Brooklyn arena took acts away from Madison Square Garden. A Queens/Nassau building could take dates away from the Nassau Coliseum and the Brooklyn arena. The Belmont property is owned by New York State. Brooklyn arena officials and Islanders ownership are scheduled to renegotiate the hockey team’s lease in 2018 in good faith bargaining but it appears the Islanders ownership’s good faith bargaining is centered around Belmont Park, not Brooklyn.