As Charles Wang's deadline for seeing significant progress on the Lighthouse project expired Saturday, the New York Islanders owner said that Monday he would begin to explore other options.
In a news conference shortly before the team's season opener last night at the Nassau Coliseum, Wang said that he would begin taking phone calls from others interested in the team or in the $3.8-billion project.
"Anything is open," Wang said.
Sources say Wang has received as many as eight offers from locations in and outside of New York State interested in becoming the Islanders' new home.
The Islanders lease requires them to play all home games at the Coliseum until 2015. The developers are waiting for Hempstead Town to approve the project's zoning.
Wang said Saturday that he has not ruled out leaving the Island. "There's plenty of time to do both [negotiate with Hempstead Town and talk to other parties]."
"I'm upset, discouraged, disappointed, some would say I'm disgusted that they continue to play games this way," Wang said.
Wang said amending the project would depend on what kind of compromise the town is looking for.
"The worst thing would be if we have to go re-study everything," he said. adding that he's spent $15 million so far during the planning stages of the project.
Through town spokesman Mike Deery, Murray said, "There's absolutely no game-playing when it comes to development proposals. We just expect Mr. Wang to answer the same questions as any other developer has to answer."
Murray has said she doesn't meet privately with developers because, as a board member, she would one day have to vote on the project. Town officials said Saturday that the reason she can meet Wang now is that the public zoning hearing has been held.
Wang also criticized Murray, a Republican, Saturday for telling the press about the Friday phone call.
"I said [to her] the conversation was off the record. . . . I didn't want any more games."
Deery said, "It was never an off-the-record conversation."
Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi - who dropped the opening puck at the game - expressed his frustrations with the town.
"The ball's in their court," said Suozzi, a Democrat. "We're in the middle of an economic recession and here are two credible people . . . who want to invest $3.8 billion in Long Island. Why are we not doing everything we can instead of putting up roadblocks?"
Top draft choice John Tavares excited the sellout crowd - which the Isles failed to draw in last season's opener - scoring a goal in his debut despite the team's 4-3 shootout loss.
At the end of the news conference, Wang wanted to put the Lighthouse project behind him - for a few hours at least.
"Now it's time for hockey," Wang said before heading to watch the puck drop. "Let's go Islanders."