Sports Outside the Beltway

New York Islanders owner regrets buying team

Charles Wang has put over a quarter billion of his own money into the franchise since purchasing it in 2000. From AP-

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang says he regrets buying the money-losing NHL team nine years ago.

“If I had the chance I wouldn’t do it again,” Wang told Newsday.

Citing the team’s annual audited financial reports, Newsday reported Saturday on its Web site that Wang has spent $208.8 million — an average of $23 million per year — to keep the team operating. He also spent $74.2 million when he and Sanjay Kumar bought the club and assumed $97 million in liabilities.

“His numbers are real,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Newsday. “Yes, we’re aware the Islanders lose money, a significant amount of money. And it goes back to the team’s need for a new arena.”

Wang said he initially assumed Nassau Coliseum would either be refurbished or replaced within a few years, but his proposed $3.7 billion Lighthouse Project has been held up and is still under review by the Town of Hempstead.

“Never in my life, would I have anticipated this thing could be dragged out for seven, eight years,” said Wang, the founder of Computer Associates.

An NHL-worst 26-47-9 this season, the Islanders will play a preseason game in September in Kansas City, Mo., prompting speculation about a move. Officials in Willets Point in Queens also have expressed interest in the team.

“I’m not saying I’ll move,” Wang said. “I’m saying I’ll explore all my options.”

Honestly I don’t blame Mr. Wang. He has a great deal of money invested, if I were him I’d want the business in the best possible environment for it to become profitable. The New York area has three NHL franchises, the Islanders, the NY Rangers, and the New Jersey Devils. Are there enough NHL fans in that area? A team needs both a solid business model, and results on ice(or field) to be successful. Some owners emphasize the first, but losing teams rarely can make money on a consistent basis. Consumers aren’t going to put up money for a poor product, and goes for sports fans also.

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