Islanders To Sell Minority Stake; Wang to Lose Full Control in 2016

New York Islanders sale
New York Islanders John Tavares shoots against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, May 11, 2013. (Photo by Joe Nuzzo)

The New York Islanders announced Tuesday that an agreement is in place to sell a minority stake of the NHL franchise to an ownership group that will takeover full control of the professional hockey team in two years.

The Isles reached an agreement, which is subject to NHL approval, with a group led by former Washington Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and London-based investor Scott Malkin to purchase a “substantial” minority interest in the team, the team said. Financial figures were not disclosed, and the Islanders said they would not comment until the NHL completes the franchise ownership transfer process.

“I look forward to a long and successful partnership,” current owner Charles Wang said in a press release that did not clarify what role he will have once the transition to majority ownership is complete.

Under the terms of the agreement, the ownership group will own a majority stake in the team in two years.

The deal comes one week after it was reported that Wang was being sued for $10 million by a hedge fund manager for retreating on a deal to sell the franchise $420 million. The New York Daily News reported that Wang had “seller’s remorse” and raised his asking price to $548 million after learning about ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s $2 billion bid to buy the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.

Upon league approval, the deal will put the new ownership in group in place for the Islanders final season at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The team will move to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center at the beginning of the 2015 season.

Wang’s reign as Islanders owner has been a tumultuous one.

Three years ago, Wang and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano pushed for a $400 million publicly-funded reconstruction of the arena, which was emphatically shot down by voters at the polls.

That was preceded by Wang’s ambitious Lighthouse Project, which failed to get the backing of the Town of Hempstead. The town approved a scaled-down version of the mixed-use development plan. Wang later pulled the plug on the project.

For decades, Islanders fan have been on edge: not knowing if their beloved team would ever get a new stadium or whether the franchise would be relocated, which Wang had threatened to do if the Coliseum wasn’t renovated by the end of its lease in 2015.

The team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since its four-peat from 1980-84.

With a change in ownership and a new arena waiting, maybe Islanders fans can finally put the last decade behind them.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL,” Ledecky said in the news release.