The New York Islanders are selling a minority stake of the team, with a former Washington Capitals co-owner and a London-based investor to become full owners in two years.
The hockey team said Tuesday a group led by former Capitals co-owner Jon Ledecky and investor Scott Malkin agreed to buy a “substantial” minority interest. Terms weren’t immediately disclosed.
Under the agreement, current owner Charles Wang will continue as majority stockholder for two years, the team said in a statement. At that point, ownership will transfer to the Ledecky-Malkin group.
“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 a statement.
The sale must be approved by the NHL’s board of governors. The full agreement, including the planned ownership transfer in two years, will be presented to the board but that likely won’t happen for the next board meeting in September. The board will meet again in December.
The NHL had no comment Tuesday regarding the sale.
Wang, a billionaire founder of the software computer company Computer Associates, now known as CA, had tried for nearly a decade to build a new arena for the Long Island hockey team. When several efforts failed, including a referendum in 2011 defeated by voters that would have financed a $400 million coliseum, Wang announced in October 2012 plans to move the team to the recently opened Barclays Center in Brooklyn once the team’s lease with the aging Nassau Coliseum expires after the upcoming season.
The team will go to Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season.
“I’m thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum,” Wang said. “I look forward to a long and successful partnership.”
Last week a hedge-fund manager who was interested in buying the Islanders sued Wang, contending breach of contract. Andrew Barroway’s NY ICE said Wang demanded $548-million months after agreeing to sell the team for $420-million.
The lawsuit alleges Wang had “seller’s remorse” and demanded more money from Philadelphia-based Barroway after the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers sold for $2-billion.
Wang wanted to keep the team in New York despite failing to get the Lighthouse Project built on Long Island. That grandiose plan would have included a new arena for the Islanders, but it never gained approval for construction.
Both Wang and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman have stated that the Islanders wouldn’t play in Nassau Coliseum one day longer than they had to. Wang said he had serious options to move the team beyond New York but stuck to his desire to stay in the metropolitan area.
After seven months of negotiations, the Brooklyn deal was reached. Once the Islanders settle in there, they will begin a 25-year lease at the Barclays Center.
Officials in nearby Nassau County struggled for years to come up with a plan to either renovate or build an arena to replace the Nassau Coliseum, which opened in 1972.
Wang had long threatened to move the team from its Uniondale home after the club’s lease expired. He complained that the dilapidated building was unsuited for a professional sports franchise.
The Islanders were once the toast of the NHL when they won the Stanley Cup four straight years from 1980 to 1983 and reached the finals for five straight seasons. But they have qualified for the playoffs only once (2013) since 2007.
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