One of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- days in New York Islanders history will not take place on the ice.
With the franchise's future in Nassau County perhaps hanging in the balance, a public hearing will be held Tuesday on the campus of nearby Hofstra University to determine the fate of owner Charles Wang's "Lighthouse Project," which includes a transformation of the 37-year-old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It is unquestionably the most important public meeting before zoning approval and the official public comment period for the $4 billion project.
The "Lighthouse Project" is the biggest development deal in Long Island's modern-day history. Covering 150 acres, it also plans to feature 2,300 apartments, a five-star hotel, a sports technology center, 1 million square feet of office space as well as restaurants and shops. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will be in attendance to speak on behalf of the project, which is expected to generate more than $70 million annually in tax revenues and create roughly 19,000 permanent jobs.
Should the project finally be approved, the transformation of the Coliseum will take place in the first phase. Expanded and additional concourses will offer a variety of concessions and restaurants, all-new restrooms, larger seats and VIP suites. The capacity for hockey will be increased from 16,234 to 17,500.
Wang bought the Islanders in 2000 and loses roughly $20 million annually. The Isles' current lease with Nassau County expires in 2015.
Community supporters will hold a "Just Build It" rally in the Coliseum parking lot at 8 a.m. Tuesday and will march down the street to Hofstra University for the public hearing. The rally will feature guest speakers including Wang, as well as Islanders alumni. Current forwards Josh Bailey and Joel Rechlicz will also be in attendance.
Check back with NHL.com on Tuesday for full coverage.