New York Islanders owner Charles Wang has won a bid to take over the bankrupt ice-skating facility in Nassau's Eisenhower Park -- and will turn it into the team's official practice space, offices and pro shop.
Officials were notified on Monday that Wang's $8 million cash bid for assets of the privately operated Twin Rinks Ice Center, including its 30-year, county-issued license, will be selected. A judge is expected to sign a formal order next week.
The Islanders, who played their last game at Nassau Coliseum in April, have already moved to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, but will keep their corporate and training headquarters on Long Island.StorySources: Isles owner bids for bankrupt ice rinkStoryContractor: County owes $100G for rink workStoryIce skating center files for bankruptcy
Wang had planned to spend $5.1 million to renovate the rink at the county's Cantiague Park in Hicksville for team practices, but said the opportunity to use a facility already built to accommodate a professional team was too good to pass up.
"We love the place, the players love the place," Wang said of the Twin Rinks center inside the county's large East Meadow park. "It's the premier facility for ice hockey in Nassau County, no question about it."
Wang said he originally wanted to strike a deal with Twin Rinks' owners, before their bankruptcy, to make the facility the Islanders' practice home. Twin Rinks has two indoor, NHL-sized rinks, an outdoor rink, a store and a training area.
"Cantiague was only a second choice when we couldn't get the deal done," Wang said.
As part of the Cantiague agreement, the Islanders were to hold regular open practices and autograph sessions. County officials say they expect more fan access at Twin Rinks.
Nassau will still spend $300,000 to expand Cantiague's rink to allow use by college teams, but the Islanders are not involved, officials said.
"It's a great fit -- a better fit than Cantiague," County Executive Edward Mangano said of the Islanders and Twin Rinks. "It has larger facilities and significant un-programmed space already existing in it. This is very good news for residents."
Twin Rinks opened in early 2014 as a much-touted partnership between Nassau and investors including Joel Friedman and brothers Chris and Peter Ferraro, both former NHL players. But construction costs ballooned from an initially estimated $15 million to $52 million, and the owners fell behind on license payments to the county.
In June, the owners filed for bankruptcy, setting off the public auction for their assets.
Wang's Twin Rinks Acquisition LLC was one of three bidders. Syosset developer Ed Blumenfeld bid $9 million in installments, sources said. SoNo Ice House, a Connecticut company that runs an ice rink and junior hockey team, also bid.
The Islanders and the county now must come up with a new settlement agreement for $4.5 million in disputed money that was to be put toward the Cantiague rink improvements. That money had been paid to the county years ago in connection with Wang's failed efforts to redevelop Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding land, and had been held in escrow ever since.
Wang last year sold a minority interest in the team to businessmen Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin. The two will own the controlling interest in the Islanders in two years.