Lizards' search for new home includes Islip sports complex as possibility
The Long Island Lizards are looking for a new home.
The Lizards, a Major League Lacrosse team that plays at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium, are exploring options for a new facility, said majority owner Andrew Murstein, whose company, Medallion Financial Corp., acquired a majority share of the Lizards in May.
Murstein said the team would like to have a location selected by the end of this year.
Murstein and his partner, Jeff Rudnick, said one site being considered is in Central Islip, where the Town of Islip has approved construction of a sports complex that includes a stadium.
Andy Borgia, the developer of the complex, and Islip Town Councilman Steven J. Flotteron said they are working to bring the Lizards into the complex.
Murstein and Borgia said they are still in the preliminary stages of negotiating the terms of a potential arrangement.
"We'd love to see the Lizards come here and make this their home and we'd like to partner up with them," Borgia said. "We're negotiating and we're excited about that and so is the town."
The Ultimate Game Indoor/Outdoor Sports Complex is planned for town-owned land just west of Carleton Avenue and north of the Southern State Parkway, across the street from Bethpage Ballpark, home of the Long Island Ducks. Flotteron said with the Ducks and Lizards located so close together, plus the rest of the sports complex and a hotel coming to the area, it would become a "hub" and a "destination." Said Flotteron: "We'd almost have our own little Meadowlands here."
Borgia said the outdoor portion of the sports complex will include one "championship stadium" that can accommodate about 6,000 and is the proposed facility for Lizards home games. The average crowd for the team's first three home games at Shuart Stadium is 2,819.
Murstein is investigating options allowing the Lizards to own their own stadium, or at least to have a lease that gives the team control of its facility.
"Most sports teams' owners don't actually own their facilities, but they have a 'master lease' that gives them all the benefits of ownership, like making operational decisions and getting the revenue from advertising, concessions, suite sales, etc.,'' Murstein said. "So that's more important than actually owning it to us."
The Lizards currently have a year-to-year lease to play at Shuart Stadium. In that arrangement, Murstein said, Hofstra retains the revenue from all concessions and maintains strict control over operations.
David Gross, the commissioner of MLL, said lack of venue control is a major obstacle for the entire league, mostly for scheduling purposes. "Ideally, all of our teams would be in control of their own venue," Gross said. "That's probably one of our biggest issues."
The Lizards are one of eight teams in the outdoor league that began play in 2001. All of the games are broadcast live on ESPN3.com, with six games on ESPN2 and 14 on CBS Sports Network throughout the season.