Sunday, May 3, 2009

Does New York Islanders Owner Charles Wang Regret Buying The Team? YES!

The owner of the New York Islanders, Charles Wang has gone on record that if given the chance to buy the team again, he would not do it.

In an article in Newsday on Saturday, it was reported that Wang has spent $208.8 million -an average of $23 million per year- to keep the team operating.

Wang also spent $74.2 million when he and Sanjay Kumar bought the club and responsibility for it's estimated $97 million in liabilities.

The NHL's deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, confirmed the numbers stating, "Yes, we’re aware the Islanders lose money, a significant amount of money. And it goes back to the team’s need for a new arena.”

Wang, 64, said he initially assumed Nassau Coliseum would either be renovated or replaced within a few years, as part of his $3.7 billion Lighthouse Project.

The project, that also includes a five-star hotel, condominiums, an Athletic Complex featuring four ice rinks, basketball facility, a state-of-the-art health club that will serve as the Islanders’ practice facility that will be open to the public, a Sports Technology Center, open air plaza, and conference center.

The go ahead on the project has been held up and is still under review by the Town of Hempstead.

“Never in my life, would I have anticipated this thing could be dragged out for seven, eight years,” he said.

Wang, the co-founder of Computer Associates and Kumar - former CA CEO- bought the Islanders in 2004.

Kumar, was bought out by Wang in 2004 and is serving a 12-year prison term for a $400 million accounting fraud scandal.

Wang grew up in Queens after immigrating from China at age eight.

He was determined to keep the franchise in New York, after acquiring it, but has threatened to move the club if the project does not go through.

"I knew going in that I was going to lose money," Wang said.

“I’m not saying I’ll move, I’m saying I’ll explore all my options.”

Wang's ownership tenure has brought a mash of controversial player trades, draft choices, managerial or coaching hirings/firings and contract signings in the past nine years.

A Forbes Magazine article investigated why certain NHL franchises could remain profitable despite poor attendance and overall league profit loss.

They found that several league owners under reported their cable broadcast revenue.

The magazine specifically accused Wang of excluding half of the $17 million paid to the Islanders for the 2003 cable broadcast season.

In Oct 2008, Forbes listed the Islanders along with the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes in their top-ten list of pro sports franchises expected to move.

Later that month, the magazine ranked the franchise 29th on it's list of the 30 teams in the league with a value of $154 million.

Wang bought the team for $170 million.

The Islanders have made the playoffs just once in the last four season and finished dead last this season.

In April, the franchise won the right to draft 1st overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Since that, Islanders representatives claim that their ticket sales department has seen a 300-percent increase in phone calls and e-mail inquiries over last year at this time and also is on pace to renew 90 percent of its season tickets.

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