Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Experts: Coliseum not why free agents snub Isles

Article HERE

Sports facility and financing experts Tuesday questioned Islanders general manager Garth Snow's claim that the "common theme" in losing key players to free agency was the 35-year-old Nassau Coliseum.

"It seems pretty unlikely that an agent would let his player turn down a deal that was better than the one he took just because the building is old," said Neil deMause, co-author of "Field of Schemes: How the Great Stadium Swindle Turns Public Money Into Private Profit."

DeMause was referring to Ryan Smyth's choice to forsake the Islanders' $32.5-million, five-year offer to join the Colorado Avalanche at $31.25 million over five years. The loss of Smyth and four other central characters from this season's playoff team prompted Snow to say, "A lot of it has to do with our building; that's a big obstacle."

"My take," deMause said, "is [Snow] was taking the opportunity to make the case to get a new arena. If you're looking for a new arena, you take every opportunity to say so."

Marc Ganis, a sports marketing consultant and head of SportsCorp Ltd., said there is "validity" to an Islanders argument that "because they don't have a new arena, they don't have the financial wherewithal that they might have" for higher player salaries.

"There have been instances where training facilities, or ice surface or field of play is so poor or so good they cause a player to factor that into their decision," Ganis said. "But short of those, [the stadium or arena] is not going to be the operative issue."

Typically, player-signing decisions related to a home-team facility are based on competitive aspects -- artificial turf or short home-run porches -- according to Jay Weiner, author of "Stadium Games: Fifty Years of Big League Greed and Bush League Boondoggles."

"Maybe it's time for a new building," Weiner said, "but not because the Islanders can't sign a free agent."

The Coliseum often is described as "creaky" and "worn out," but the Islanders' losses came on the same day the Rangers landed two elite centers by saying Scott Gomez and Chris Drury wanted to play at Madison Square Garden -- which is four years older than the Coliseum.

The Garden's overwhelming advantage of location and mystique is widely acknowledged. Ganis said, "Long Island is a tough market but it shouldn't be this tough," because of an arena's enormous economic potential, "an affluence on the Island, and a team with a good history. It's easier for the Islanders than for the Nets building in Brooklyn."

But Snow won't be able to sell free agents on a new arena for a while, deMause said. "How long have the Islanders been talking about a new building?" he asked. "Five years? They're just getting started. It's taken the Yankees 20 years."

And they've signed a lot of free agents in the meantime


BUBUKITI said...

Thanks for posting that. I still can't belive they only signed 1 UFA they signed 3 other guys but they are coming to bridgeport which is a good thing, we can use some more players. Since I'm sure they will lose most of them to the Island this season.

Dani said...

I have no idea what to think of this team anymore. Ive been a lifelong fan (literally - my 1st hockey game was the islanders 1st game on home ice, as a child on my dad's kneee) and looking back thru all the heartbreak, thru all the Spano, Gluckstern and Millstein, and other assorted debacles (lets not even discuss the (^@% $# Fisherman, shall we?) it's hard to keep the faith.

BUBUKITI said...

Maybe it's a rebuilding year for them, maybe they want to go the homegrown route, if that's what they want to do it works, most of the boys in Bridgeport are young and they can use a little more development, but I think Nolan can do that, he already works closely with them and is in Bridgeport every chance he gets. It's what Pittsburg did last season and it worked for them (it'll make me sad because I'll lose my boys, but don't worry I'll be ok) or maybe they are all just crazy. That's it...I'm going with CRAZY!!!