Ledecky, Malkin to Eventually Assume Majority Control of Team
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Charles Wang, the man responsible for keeping the New York Islanders in the tri-state area and delivering them to us here in Downtown Brooklyn, is selling majority control of the NHL franchise to former Washington Capitals co-owner Jonathan Ledecky and investor Scott Malkin.
Under the agreement, financial terms of which have yet to be released, Wang will continue as majority shareholder and governor of the Islanders, with the Ledecky/Malkin group transitioning to majority ownership in two years.
The sale is pending approval of the NHL Board of Governors, which is expected by the end of the year.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL," Ledecky said in a statement on the league’s website.
"I'm thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders' final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum," Wang added. "I look forward to a long and successful partnership."
Wang, a Brooklyn Tech High School alum, inked a 25-year agreement to move the Islanders from the Nassau Coliseum into the Barclays Center beginning in 2015-16.
He joined forces with former Nets owner Bruce Ratner in delivering our borough’s first major pro sports franchise since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957.
“[Bruce Ratner and I] both had a dream six or seven years ago to build something special for our fan bases,” Wang said upon officially announcing the historic Barclays deal in October of 2012.
“We wanted to keep our teams local,” he added. “The Islanders will join the Nets at Barclays Center in 2015. It's been a long journey, but we're finally here."
That journey from Uniondale, N.Y., to the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues not only assured long-suffering Islander fans that their team would not wind up in Kansas City or in a Canadian locale, but also made the franchise much more attractive to potential buyers.
Previously ranked as low as 26th in last November’s Forbes NHL franchise valuations due to their poor attendance figures at the outdated Nassau Coliseum and lack of regular success on the ice, the Islanders have already received a guarantee of $50 million in annual regular-season revenue from the Barclays Center.
Wang, who has actively been looking to sell his majority stake in the team, was recently sued by businessman Andrew Barroway for a reported $10 million after Barroway claimed the Isles’ owner backed out of a $420 million agreement to sell him the franchise in March.
Apparently, Wang received a more attractive, and likely more lucrative, offer from Ledecky and Malkin.
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 back in 2012.
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 the Midwest or somewhere north of the U.S. border, 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.
They’ll take the ice in Brooklyn again this preseason before embarking on their final campaign on Long Island this October.