Lighthouse Or Bust In Long Island

Despite a contract that requires the New York Islanders to play at the aging Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum until 2015, the hockey team’s owner has issued an ultimatum regarding his proposed $3 billion Lighthouse Project: approve the development or lose the team.

Islanders owner Charles Wang, who partnered with real estate exec Scott Rechler on the Lighthouse, has unveiled plans for the 150-acre development in Uniondale, N.Y. Included was the stipulation that the town has until April 28 to approve the project or possibly see the team hit the road, according to Newsday.

“I’m not contemplating it; I’m not negotiating with anyone, but I continue to keep my options open – and they should be open all the time,” Wang recently told the paper. “Ultimately, if you don’t want to go to a game because the arena is a dump, I lose, the county loses, everybody loses. I want this thing to proceed. We can talk and talk, but we’ve got to get off our butts. Let’s get it done.”

The development would update the current building with an upgraded entertainment venue alongside housing, retail and office space, conference facilities, a minor league ballpark and a five-star hotel.

According to Wang and Rechler’s plans, the project could create more than 75,000 jobs during development stages and more than 18,000 jobs after Lighthouse is completed, Newsday reported. The developers have also estimated the project could create more than $50 million in tax revenues for the local economy after completion.

However, Martin Cantor, director of the Economic and Social Policy Institute at Dowling College, questioned those numbers.

“We’re in as close to a depression as we could be,” Cantor told the paper. “Businesses are hurting. They won’t hire new people until years from now.”

Still, the county doesn’t have too much time to mull over the details of the project.

Wang has already scheduled the Islanders to play an off-season exhibition game in Kansas City, Mo., in September, where officials have expressed interest in securing a pro sports team as an anchor tenant for the Sprint Center.