Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Atlantic League ~ Long Island To Get A Second Team?

Professional Baseball has committed themselves to Nassau County.  Now the question is if Nassau County is committed to Baseball.

The Atlantic League has already struck a deal to expand to Nassau County, Long Island, pending approval of a $400 million dollar loan from the taxpayers in order to fund construction of a new baseball park, and a new arena for the New York Islanders Hockey Club.  The vote to approve a tax hike will take place on August 1st.  Raising taxes has always been a volatile subject on Long Island.  The County's return will come from revenue sharing.  But the project also needs approval from New York State as well, ever since they took over control of Nassau County's check book.  So, a Yes Vote on this spending package isn't a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.

Frank Boulton; Long Island Ducks owner; Founder and CEO of the Atlantic League; would own the new team as well.  His group was approved by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano over another group which included Sterling Equities; i.e. - The Wilpons (N.Y. Mets).  This is the second time the Mets looked into relocating or placing a minor league team in Nassau County and failed.  Just a few years ago they looked into relocating their AA-club to Long Island.

In the July 12th edition of the N.Y. Post, writer Kieran Crowley reported,

"....Frank Boulton said he will bring the already-approved, but dormant, Newark team of the Atlantic League to Nassau...."

I'm not quite sure I follow.  The Newark Bears are currently under new ownership and are participating in their first season in the Canadian/American League; coming after twelve years in, and being one of the original Atlantic League teams from 1998.

But that little perceived inaccuracy on my part, doesn't preclude the Bears from being sold again, or just moving the team to Nassau County under their current ownership.  Except for all the rich tradition and history Newark Baseball represents, which they'd potentially be leaving behind, the move would actually make sense for them considering their poor attendance figures over the years.  The reasons they switched over to the CanAm League in the first place were for cost-cutting purposes.

A new team in Long Island would of course create an instant rivalry between Suffolk County and Nassau County.  It's already being dubbed, "the Expressway Series."  The Ducks have been wildly successful out in eastern Long Island; routinely playing to near, if not sold out games.  And Mr. Frank Boulton is assuring the County that success can be had in Nassau as well.

The people will decide on August 1st.

...And decide they will.  Baseball aside, this is probably the last chance to keep the New York Islanders from moving out of the Metropolitan area.  Islanders' owner; Charles Wang; is hemorrhaging cash and has had it with County officials.  He went from proposing to build a privately funded Lighthouse project to waiting on the residents of Nassau County for a loan. 

For Long Island; this is...ponderous!  What were they thinking?  They went from having someone looking to foot the bill on a new arena with an adjacent entertainment and retail destination, to polluting the plan with a baseball team and asking the residents to pick up the tab.  But one thing is sure; the Islanders and Charles Wang can not remain NHL viable for much longer in the present Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum.  And if this loan isn't passed, kiss Hockey on Long Island good-bye.  The best case scenario is Wang sells the team and the new owner then inherits the same migraine headache and problems.  Sounds promising. 

Brooklyn's Barclays Center has already been ruled out as a potential landing spot for the Islanders.

My personal opinion?  I hope they get it right and approve the deal.  Build it and they will come.  I would definitely make the relatively short drive out to see a baseball team in Nassau County.  And as far as the Islanders are concerned, I'd look forward to continuing the Ranger/Isles rivalry against a healthy and thriving Long Island team.  But in the Islanders' case, that comes with a new arena.


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