Wang: I want to keep Islanders on LI

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, with county

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang, with county executive Edward Mangano looking on, announce the defeat of the referendum to build a new Nassau Coliseum. (Aug. 1, 2011) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang said Wednesday he wants to keep the team on Long Island, but offered no guarantees.

After the defeat on Monday of a referendum on borrowing up to $400 million for a new Nassau Coliseum, Wang released a statement that left the door open to remaining on Long Island.

"I would like to thank all of the Nassau County residents who participated in the Aug. 1st referendum," Wang said in the statement, which also ran as an advertisement in Newsday.

"I am disappointed and heartbroken with the outcome," Wang said. "However, what I believe is every time a door closes, another one will open. I have lived on Long Island for almost 60 years and it is my home. I am not giving up on Long Island and I hope you won't either."

On Tuesday, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said that he would begin soliciting ideas for private sector development of the 77 acres around the Coliseum. While that plan could include keeping the Islanders and an arena, Mangano said he would consider all offers from developers to lease or buy the land.

It is unclear if Wang, who declined to comment further on the team's future, will bid on the property.

Wang has said that if a new Coliseum isn't built, he will move the Islanders after their lease expires in 2015. Officials in Suffolk County and Brooklyn have expressed interest in luring the team. Queens has been also been a frequently mentioned landing spot for the Islanders.

Wednesday, a group seeking to bring an NHL team to Kansas City, Mo., also expressed interest in the Islanders. The Sprint Center, which opened in October 2007, was built for a professional sports franchise but has yet to attract a club.

"We know we have a state-of-the-art, NHL-ready building that has the best agreement for a potential anchor tenant in the United States," said Paul McGannon, president of NHL 21. "We're waiting on Phoenix, we're waiting on the Islanders, we're waiting to see what happens in St. Louis and Dallas. We're just waiting for our turn in line.

"If parties are interested, we'll roll out the welcome mat," said McGannon. "We're not in the business of taking teams. We're in the business of getting the NHL back in Kansas City."

With Katie Strang

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