So much for that rumor of not having any money. There have been stories about how the Wilpons had hundreds of millions of dollars pulled out from underneath them by wall street scumbag Bernie Madoff. During the offseason all you read about in the papers and on the net was that the Mets didn’t go out and get John Lackey or Joel Pinero or whoever because they took such a big hit with the Ponzi scheme. Well, I think this latest development has put that story on “ice”
Ever since 1986 (when I was 6 years old) I have bled the orange and blue, and somewhere in the late 90’s the black of the New York Mets. As I became a little older, I realized that on Sports Channel (one of the two regional sports networks in the NY/NJ area in the 80’s and 90’s), there was another team that I could bleed blue and orange for as well…the New York Islanders. Both franchises have the most die-hard of die-hard fans. I was immediately hooked. I have lived and died with every win and loss of both franchises for essentially the last quarter century. Since I have become fans of these teams, I have experienced some of the most incredible moments in sports history, but I have also seen some of the absolute worst.
The Mets and the Islanders have essentially played second fiddle to the Yankees and Rangers for most of my life. There’s always an inferiority complex that both franchises and fan bases have to deal with. This has come about even though the 1986 Mets may be one of the greatest baseball teams of all time and the Islanders are the last true dynasty (4 straight Stanley Cup wins 1980-81 to 1983-84 and an NHL record 19 straight playoff series wins) in professional sports. Of course in a city where the Yankees have a great team every year and have won 27 World Series, the Mets are going to be the red-headed step child. Then there are the Rangers who attempt to sign the big name to skate down broadway but always seem to come up short. Meanwhile the Islanders are Long Island’s only professional sports team, and during the glory years, there was no louder place to see a game than at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Well, the time has come and gone for the Coliseum to be torn down and dynamited. It is the oldest building in the NHL and is falling apart at the seams. Have no fear Islander fans, because if the town of Hempstead won’t approve a new stadium for your team, Mayor Bloomberg will. In an interview yesterday, Mets owner Fred Wilpon said that he has spoken to Islanders owner Charles Wang about building a hockey arena as part of a sports complex at Citi Field. What may be even better news is that Wilpon also expressed interest in possibly buying the Islanders from Wang. Now as an Isles fan, that might have been the best news I have heard other than “With the first pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, the New York Islanders select Jonathan Tavares” . If Fred Wilpon was to buy the Isles (for what I would imagine would be a real good price since Wang wants to get rid of the team like a bad cold sore), this franchise would be reborn. The Wilpons (Son Jeff is the Mets president) have never been cheap, and are always looking for a good investment. They would probably get the team for around $125-$150 million. The Isles currently have the lowest payroll in the league and are the youngest team. The minor league system has been replenished and is full of talent. If there was ever a time for this deal to get done, it’s now.
For someone who is just like the other hundreds of thousands of Long Island natives who bleed orange and blue, this is a match made in heaven. So what if the new arena would be in Queens? Mass transit would be extremely simple. One proposed area for the arena would be the Willets Point site. This site already has subway tack access and could easily have LIRR rails attached as well. Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, would be ecstatic to have such a powerful ownership group in place for the biggest market in professional sports. If the Wilpons have ever done anything right, it was buying the low on the Mets. Here is that golden opportunity with the Islanders. As a fan of both teams, please make this happen.