And so it begins.
Newsday's Islanders blog on Thursday posted a link to a story on TSN that reports the Isles and L.A. Kings will play an exhibition game in September in Kansas City, a municipality that is actively seeking a professional hockey team for its major-league-ready arena, the Sprint Center.
TSN's Darren Dreger reports, "... according to league sources this game could be perceived as a veiled threat of potential relocation if plans for a new arena on Long Island aren't soon finalized."
Charles Wang has never explicitly threatened to move the Islanders. In fact, he has time and again expressed his commitment to the area.
Say what you want about the ambitiousness of The Lighthouse Project, but revitalizing the area around the Coliseum and Hofstra University has long been a goal of Nassau County, and the fact is that Charles Wang and Rexcorp are committed not just to a new and improved arena but developing the property that they own.
Financing is not an issue. The need for construction work on Long Island is tremendous.
What the project lacks is approval, and if an exhibition game in Kansas City is necessary to remind the Town of Hempstead and Nassau County and whoever else what is at stake, and that time is certainly of the essence, then so be it.
And if anyone out there doesn't think there is a risk of the Islanders leaving Long Island, look at the Seattle Supersonics. That was a team that had won an NBA title, that had tremendous fan support and played in a recently renovated arena.
All it took was an ownership change to send the team to Oklahoma City, the fans be damned.
It will be very interesting to track the progress of the Lighthouse project in 2009. And you can do so at the Lighthouse site, or at its blog.