Thursday, May 13, 2010

Queens? Hey, It's better than Kansas City

Charles Wang has said all along that he was going to keep his options open. So to hear that Wang has been in discussions with Jeff Wilpon of the Mets about moving the team to a new arena in the vicinity of Citi Field should surprise exactly no one.

The Iron Triangle, as the glut of auto body, muffler and chop shops adjacent to Citi Field is known, is high on mayor Mike Bloomberg's list of areas he'd like to see revitalized, and Wilpon, in his interview with Newsday, is looking for another sports team to join the Mets in the area to help anchor the proposed new development.

Wilpon said he's spoken to Wang and also with Major League Soccer about getting a team to Queens, and has even discussed possible ownership of the Islanders.

Think Ed Mangano and Kate Murray are listening? They should be.

Wang has been silent, as he has for months. He seems content to let others do the talking and the speculating about what his next move is going to be. It's a smart move. Now Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead can start to envision what it could be like without the Islanders. Instead of the Lighthouse, they could have a casino. Or an arena with no tenant.

Personally, I'd have no trouble driving an extra 20 minutes or taking the train to see the Isles play. If they can't make it happen at the Coliseum, then Queens would be the next-best thing. (Actually, Melville or Brentwood would be even better, but I'm not holding my breath.)

Will any of this happen? The Iron Triangle is an environmental disaster (think Chernobyl without any trees to kill) and the people running the "businesses" there have vowed to fight for every last grease-covered and rat-infested inch. So don't expect anything to happen anytime soon.

Like the casino talks, perhaps the Wilpon gambit helps push things along so a revised Lighthouse plan can finally be put forth and accepted.

Or maybe the Wilpons really do go ahead and buy the team.

Either way, it's better than seeing the Isles end up in Kansas City, or Winnipeg, or Branson, Mo., or some other place.

Again, the fans just want the team to stay here and have all this resolved sooner rather than later. But it's never been about the fans, and has never been more than partially about hockey.