FLUSHING, N.Y. (WPIX)—A plan to move Long Island's only nationally recognized sports franchise to Queens could become a reality, and word about the proposed move of the Islanders hockey team comes itself from a nationally recognized franchise in a different sport.
The New York Islanders have been in their home at the Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead for nearly 40 years.
For the last decade, however, the team has lost more than $20 million every year, according to its owner Charles Wang. He says part of the problem is the aging arena where his team plays.
But there may now be a new alternative for the Islanders: CitiField -- home of the New York Mets baseball team.
The Mets' chief operating officer, Jeff Wilpon, tells Newsday that he has been in contact with the owner of the Islanders about building a sports complex near CitiField, which could include an arena for the hockey team.
"That's more money for the city!" one man in Flushing told PIX 11 News, adding that even though he's a baseball fan, having another sports franchise in town would prompt him to go to a hockey game.
Flushing resident Sherry Bal loves the news. "It'll make Queens more popular," she said.
But it's not only Queens residents who gave the move their approval when they spoke with PIX 11 News. Carl Ferrara is from Long Island, where the hockey team could move from, but he works in Queens. He says, "They're wasting way too much time in Nassau County. Bring 'em here."
Ferrara was referring to a possible solution for Islanders owner Charles Wang, who for years has been trying to get the town of Hempstead, where his team's current home is, to build a new arena as part of a $3.74 billion business and residential complex called The Lighthouse.
Wang's talks with Wilpon could be part of an effort to get Hempstead to move forward with the project. Wang has not commented on the issue.
Meanwhile, Wilpon says that even if the Islanders do not move to a proposed CitiField sports complex, he may still proceed to build an indoor arena there.
Wilpon says he has also been in contact with Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber about bringing a soccer franchise to his development. Exactly where it would be located is also not certain, although the discussions raise the issue of relocating industrial businesses at Willets Point, adjacent to CitiField.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall tells Newsday that she has not at this time heard of any formal plan for construction in the CitiField area.