Nassau County residents may be the only people who will head to the polls on August 1 to decide if a new arena will be built in Uniondale, but there are plenty of other people in the tri-state area who are doing everything they can to make sure the referendum passes and the Islanders remain in Nassau County.
Christian Imperato drove two hours from Danbury, C.T. on Wednesday to attend the Vote Yes Rally outside the Nassau Coliseum box office. He has been a passionate Islanders supporter his entire life and wants to help bring a new arena to Nassau County any way possible.
“I thought the rally was great,” Imperato said. “I came because I’m a diehard Islanders fan. I felt like I had to be here to support the team.”
Imperato was not alone as more than 2,800 people came out to rally for a new sports and entertainment arena in Nassau County. There were several speakers on-hand including Islanders owner Charles Wang, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Islanders General Manager Garth Snow.
“I thought Wang did a great job of explaining how Long Island needs this and how the Islanders need this,” Imperato said, “It’s not just about the Islanders, it’s about the future of Long Island – the children and the families of Long Island.”
A fellow Connecticut native, Jaquelin Carlsen, made the hour and 15 minute drive from Stamford.
“I thought the speeches were inspiring and I’m really pleased to see all of the union guys out here,” Carlsen said. I think (a new arena) will be great for Nassau County. It will create a lot of jobs and we want to come to the new Coliseum.”
Carlsen and her family are loyal Bridgeport Sound Tigers (the Islanders American Hockey League affiliate) fans and have recently started attending Islanders games because of that.
“My girls have met quite a few of the players and they’re wonderful guys,” Carlsen said. “We love to come down here so we wanted to support the team even though we can’t vote.”
Carlsen had a full car of supporters with her and said she thinks a new arena would be great for Nassau County, a place she so often visits because of Islanders events.
“The way the economy is I think people need jobs,” she said. “People need to work and I think it would really benefit Nassau County. I think it’s really important.
There were some supporters in attendance who are passionate about the cause, are not old enough to cast a vote.
Merrick native James Dachille said he came down to the rally to show his support for the Islanders even though he hasn’t turned 18 yet. Donning an Islanders t-shirt and sign, he made it clear that without the Islanders in Nassau County, he would be very upset.
“It would be emotionally tough to lose this team and to lose millions of dollars toward the County,” Dachille said. “Losing the Islanders would be awful.”
Each of these fans have experienced great games at the Coliseum and want to make sure they make some new memories at a new arena in 2015.
“I missed the dynasty years, but my favorite memory is the Maple Leafs’ series with the Shawn Bates’ penalty shot,” Imperato said. “Also, in 2006-07 when we won our last four games to make the playoffs was great.”
Carlsen saw a Paul McCartney concert at Nassau Coliseum in 1975 and attended CW Post. Her ties to Nassau County run deep, which is a big reason why she is invested in keeping the Islanders here.
What’s the other option? The Coliseum closes and the Islanders leave? There have been no alternatives. We have to keep building and progressing as a society if we want to get out of this recession. We can’t just keep closing everything down. - Christian Imperato
Imperato has been attending Islanders games for years and said voting yes on August 1 is the only choice for Nassau residents
“What’s the other option? The Coliseum closes and the Islanders leave?” he said. “There have been no alternatives. We have to keep building and progressing as a society if we want to get out of this recession. We can’t just keep closing everything down.”
All three of these Vote Yes Rally attendees will watch closely on Monday when Nassau County residents decide if the Islanders and a major sports and entertainment venue will remain on Long Island.