Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Suffolk picks $1B Arena idea, Maybe the Isles will

Well Halle-frekin'-lujah.  Over a decade ago I kept asking "Why not build in Suffolk County, Mr. Wang?" Suffolk seemed perfect.  It had many parcels of available property that would have fit the needs of the Lighthouse project.  Transportation, ease of access and a favorable political environment.  But no.   Uniondale was where he wanted to be.

What was to be his legacy for his children is now just a once promising idea.  For Nassau County that is.  But here in Suffolk County the Ronkonkoma Hub project that has already broken ground seems eerily similar to me.  The apartment complexes, the retail space, the restaurant space, the parking garages each brought back memories of that multipage postcard we all got with the concepts of the project.  The only thing missing was that bubble of an arena and the much needed Sports Medical Arts building.  Well, not any more.

Across from that perfectly planned walking community will be exactly what was needed here in Suffolk;  an entertainment and convention venue partnered with a world-class sports medicine facility and jobs.  All within walking distance of a major LIRR station, along a bus route and at three exits of a major roadway.  Give me an adorable trolley as was once proposed by the Islanders organization, and this is Disney-esque to a T!

But the Islanders have NOTHING to do with this project according to Jim Baumbach from Newsday who says he is "in-the-know."  From my past experience with the organization I can say -- they never tell the whole truth because they themselves aren't even sure of the entire truth.  The truth is basically a moving target for them.

So maybe they will have a new home in Suffolk, maybe not.  Who knows.  If they continue to play the way they have been, they can put in an ECHL team and it will be just as successful.  Hell, put the Stony Brook SeaWolves in there.  That's fine.

The Islanders are the classic definition of insanity.  Continue to do the same thing believing there will be a different outcome.  Will John Tavares stay long enough to see ANY new arena built for them, wherever it may be?  Not sure.  But certainly the Islanders have done nothing for him in years other than grant him protection from a Canadian media spotlight and basketball in Charles Wang's driveway.

If John Tavares truly wants to have his name etched on the Stanley Cup, it is time for him to move on.  And speaking of moving on, Garth Snow can't possibly be happy with himself or his organization.  He has nothing to show for his tenure as GM other than mediocrity.  Time to find a new beginning for him as well.  But don't be surprised if things stay the way they are.  This is after all The Islanders.  No matter who "owns" them, they manage to always stay pretty much the same:  A work in progress.  Sort of like the Sistine Chapel.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Suffolk County:  What About Us?

So last night I ventured out to a function much like ones I had visited years ago.  A public display of proposals for improvement of our region by prominent engineers, designers and investors.  Each group looking to come up with a plan that would enhance the already approved Ronkonkoma Hub development.  You see in Suffolk, we STILL have large parcels of undeveloped land.  Although when looking at the very impressive model of the final Ronkonkoma Hub plan with it's beautiful street arches, spired center piece, 14,500 residential units, restaurant and retail space, I was left shocked when I asked how many acres the magnificent project was occupying.  It's about five to six acres.  THAT'S IT.

Even more shocking?  The density is less than that of the Patchogue redevelopment which we know has done wonders for that downtown area.  Yes, Bay Shore and Patchogue have been turned around in my lifetime.  I didn't expect it.  But there they are.  Trendy, cool destinations well designed with the next generation in mind.

But I digress.  So now Suffolk has turned it's eyes (for the past few years) to the next project area; the large swath of property by the Ronkonkoma train station that would be on the other side of the Hub.  But what to do with it?

One plan proposed was to mirror the development with MORE residential units and offices.  That plan left me shaking my head.  Too big.  Too much.  Another plan had three different concepts that seemed like someone took out Legos and just tried to see what fit together.  I wasn't that impressed.

But for me, one project possibility stood out because it seemed so desirable, so perfectly complimentary, so .... so... familiar.  The key project elements that the Ronkonkoma Vision Project, LLC presented last night were all the things so many of us wanted to see for Long Island in Nassau County.  A new convention center, a sports Medicine center, a cultural center and a 17,500 seat entertainment arena.

WHAAAATTTTT?????  An NHL size arena in Suffolk County?  Within walking distance to a railway?  Within a stone's throw of an airport?  Be still my heart!!!  But there it was.  A rendering of a rounded out rectangle that looks like Tupperware but would house ICE.  NHL ICE.  And as an added bonus, more ice for the public and for practice facilities.  I immediately thought of what I had seen in Columbus and New Jersey.

Why you may ask?  Why not I counter.  Why was Suffolk County never in the mix for a new home for the ONE professional sports team in the region?  WHY?  So, why not?  Would finding a new home in Suffolk have been better than the Brooklyn experiment? I believe so. Would Suffolk work better than the Belmont proposal?  For me, oh hell yeah! Even though right now the Islanders are like an estranged ex-husband.  I still have feelings, but they just annoy me.  But maybe I could love again.

If this project proposal is chosen for the development of the area, it has impressive members:  JLL, Spectra (Comcast), HRA Rubenstein, Cameron Engineering.  Photos of past, profitable, projects are impressive.  If I can get my phone to work, maybe I'll be able to share some!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Islanders are Back; I May Be

Can I even remember how to work blogger?  I still get errors when I log on. 
Oh well... let's give it a shot since I seem to have 15 minutes to myself.

Isles are playing exhibition games and everyone including the fans are getting used to an entirely new routine.  So let me catch up.

Third Jersey:  Certainly it could have been better, but in the scheme of things it could have also been worse.  My complaint is that it's NOT just the jersey.  It was Yormark's attempt to rebrand the team as a sibling of his Nets.  There are all sorts of merchandise at the Brooklyn team store with the Islanders logo in glorious black and white.  It's void of our colors.  Maybe I wouldn't hate it so much if I didn't have an entire wardrobe of Blue, White and Orange.

Yormark:  The new head of the marketing machine for the Islanders was honest in telling SBJ that Gary Bateman told him the NHL isn't the NBA.  As this transition has been going on for a few years, I'm surprised he needed the Commissioner to remind him that.  But he will learn quickly how passionate hockey fans are and how we can turn on a dime if need be.  (His dime, the fans will make or break you Brett.)

Michael Grabner: Okay, who didn't see that coming?  But for Garth Snow to be able to trade him the half the Toronto Marlies team was pretty impressive.  Maybe the Leafs will find him a good eye doctor so he won't miss the net as much when he is dazzling teams with his break-away speed.

Brock Nelson:  He gave fans fits with his contract hold-out stance until the very last minute.  He better put-up numbers if he doesn't want that stance to come back and haunt him.  He did score against the Devils last night.

MSG Relents:  As I have stated year after year, nothing in Cablevision contract requires them to air pre-season games.  They air the Ranger games because they own them and they air the Devils games -- just to piss off Islander fans.  Just kidding.  But they have relented this year and are airing three.  Certainly the Evil Dolan Empire's change of heart to air an Isles/Caps game is a surprise and a nice change.

LIRR:    I DO NOT like the idea that the players will be taking the train to the arena.  Unless they are traveling with a security contingent.  Sure, it's early.  The youngsters aren't recognized yet.  But what about in December?  What if they're not doing well?  What if they are?  There are too many "What If's".  Get them off the train and get them proper transportation to and from the arena where they are protected.  What?  Are all of Jay-Z's Mercedes in the Barclay's underground VIP lot and there isn't room for anyone else?

Camera Angles:  For some reason, many fans on Twitter last night were complaining about the camera angles.  Hey!  You were lucky they had a camera... and a crew!  Remember, Cablevision didn't need to send anything, but they did.  Nice MSG desk for Shannon Hogan to report from and do between period interviews.

Press Meals: The Isles and the catering company of Barclays are in a dispute over pricing for press room meals.  I am not surprised at all.  Everything in that damn arena is overpriced.  I can only imagine what they want to charge the Isles for supplying meals in the press room.  Don't get me wrong, when I was there two years ago they put out a spread that was astounding.  But you could tell, that was going to cost big.  But does the press really NEED a free hot meal?  They can expense it if they are working for a paying outlet.  For the bloggers -- it's a nice perk.  The bloggers are the ones who do this for little or no money and everything comes out of their own pocket.  Personally, I was fine with the $1 hot dog and free coffee and popcorn at the Coli.  Although I was really miffed when they took away the cinnanuts. 

To Recap:  This is exceptionally hard for me.  I am trying to get back into the swing of what was such a large part of my life for years and I find myself only glancing at it.  I loved this team.  I loved that I was part of a contingent of people who covered them up-close-and-personal.  I had a real connection.  The connection is now just a few threads that I can either weave back into a rope or cut ties altogether.  This is a difficult choice.