Another Debt Deal Loser: The New York Islanders

Residents vote no on new stadium during debt deal debate

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One of the biggest talking points during the debt ceiling crisis was whether or not the deal to defeat the deficit would raise new revenue. Revenue usually meant "taxes." The New York Times is reporting the debt ceiling weighed on the minds of Long Island residents Monday when they voted down a $400 million plan to renovate the Nassau Coliseum. The plan would have seen the financial burden fall on the citizens of an area already suffering from high property taxes.

The New York Islanders are stuck playing in the stadium until 2015 because of a deal a previous team owner made in 1985. John Picket signed a 30-year lease to keep the Islanders in the Coliseum. Grantland's Katie Baker wrote a comprehensive look at the history of the franchise's relationship with the stadium, and to Nassau County. The deal is terrible for the team, and will likely result in them moving at the end of the lease because of it:

With Nassau County owning the building, and an arena management company called SMG raking in much of the ticket sale revenue and all of the concession dollars, there's been very little left over by way of revenue for the franchise itself. As the years went by and salaries began to balloon, what began as a nuisance became arguably the most handicapping lease arrangement in professional sports. The Islanders could theoretically sell out every game every night and lose money regardless.

The Times spoke to residents of Nassau County at "the Stop & Shop in Carle Place" and "a supermarket in Carle Place." The paper asked for their feelings on the proposed development of the stadium, which included a minor league baseball park. "I can’t afford a ticket to go to the Islanders. I’m constantly watching so I don’t go over my budget. I wish politicians would do the same. Why are they saying they want this deal when people are cutting back on food and losing jobs?" one shopper told The Times. An older resident who could remember the team's glory days from the 1980s told them he voted for the project because he "wanted a reason to buy season tickets again." One resident described the divide between the team's owners and area residents as interplanetary. She said the plan, "disregards the entire economic state of the union. It’s like, are we on the same planet?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.