Isles owner reportedly in talks to sell team before Brooklyn move
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Charles Wang, the owner of the New York Islanders and a graduate of Brooklyn Tech High School, is actively looking to sell his majority stake in the Downtown-bound franchise, according to a report in the New York Post over the weekend.
Wang, who on Oct. 24, 2012 officially announced with Barclays Center majority owner Bruce Ratner that the team would be moving to Brooklyn for the start of the 2015-16 season, has not commented directly on the potential sale, nor have any members of the Barclays hierarchy.
Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Barroway, who previously lost out on bids to purchase the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and NHL’s New Jersey Devils, is being mentioned as the “lead investor” in the hunt to get the Islanders from Wang.
Barroway would reportedly pay an initial fee of $225 million for the team, with an additional $75 million to be awarded to Wang if the Islanders meet certain revenue targets, according to the Post.
The Islanders, who snapped a six-year post-season drought by making the playoffs last year, are currently mired in last place in the Metropolitan Division.
Currently viewed as one of the least valuable franchises in the NHL due to their poor attendance figures at the outdated Nassau Coliseum and lack of regular success on the ice, the Islanders figure to become much more fetching once they arrive in our fair borough.
Barclays has already guaranteed the team approximately $50 million in annual revenue during the regular season, beginning in 2015, unless, of course, the Islanders move here in time for next season.
"Hello Brooklyn!" Wang proclaimed upon announcing the team’s 25-year iron-clad agreement to play in Brooklyn more than 16 months ago.
"[Bruce Ratner and I] both had a dream six or seven years ago to build something special for our fan bases,” he added. “We wanted to keep our teams local. The Islanders will join the Nets at Barclays Center in 2015. It's been a long journey, but we're finally here."
The former Computer Associates co-founder became a part-owner of the Islanders in 2000 before buying out a majority stake from ex-business partner Sanjay Kumar.
He did his best to keep the Islanders on Long Island by developing The Lighthouse Project, hoping to transform the dilapidated Coliseum and the surrounding 150 acres.
"[Wang] spent the better part of the past decade and tens of millions of dollars in search of a new home for the New York Islanders," revealed NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
But Nassau County ultimately shot down the proposal in Aug. 2011, forcing Wang to seek a new home for his struggling franchise.
With rumors swirling that the Islanders may land in Kansas City, or even in a locale north of the border in Canada, Wang’s decision to strike a deal in Downtown Brooklyn was encouraging to hard-core Long Islanders.
Those who had followed the team since its inception in 1972 and enjoyed a storied run of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83 were now just a Long Island Rail Road trip away from watching their team in its new state-of-the-art arena.
"Charles Wang is the real hero today," noted Ratner, who spearheaded the charge to get the Nets here before selling his majority stake in the NBA franchise to current owner Mikhail Prokhorov.
"Charles got offers, good offers, to move the Islanders out of state. But he kept the Islanders here,” Ratner emphasized.
Last September, the Islanders played the first-ever NHL game in Brooklyn, hosting the Devils in an exhibition contest in front of 14,689 fans at Barclays.
“When we came out there and saw the beautiful white ice and the big logo and everything, the heart went ‘Ba-boom, Ba-boom,’” gushed Wang on that historic night before hinting that he would love to get the team here in time for the 2014-15 season. “It’s unbelievable."
Ironically, Ratner is now in charge of redeveloping the Nassau Events Center after beating out a rival bid from Madison Square Garden last September.
According to the agreement with County Executive Edward P. Mangano, Ratner hopes to transform the 44-year old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and Plaza into an attractive, first-class destination for sports and family entertainment.
As part of the deal, the Islanders will play a minimum of six regular-season games in their former following after their eventual relocation.
Wang, who helped renovate the high school football field at his alma mater in the previous decade, isn’t likely to be along for the ride if he sells the Islanders to Barroway or any other interested buyer before 2015.
But his fingerprints will be all over the deal that brought Brooklyn its second major pro sports franchise in the past three years.