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Report: Islanders were sold for $485 million

New York Islanders Media Day

UNIONDALE, NY - SEPTEMBER 21: New York Islanders Owner Charles Wang speaks to the media on September 21, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Stobe

It sounds like Charles Wang made his money back after years of bleeding cash as the owner of the New York Islanders.

At least, that would seemingly be the case if Forbes’ report is accurate, as Mike Ozanian passes along a $485 million price tag “according to multiple sources familiar with the transaction but who are not authorized to speak publicly.” Even with heavy operating costs as a partial owner since 2000 and sole owner in 2004, one would think Wang at least broke even after acquiring the team for $187 million.

A New York Newsday followup story suggests that soon-to-be majority owners Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin may indeed have agreed to a sum in that range:

In a lawsuit filed two weeks before the completed sale, [Andrew] Barroway alleged that Wang backed out of a handshake agreement to sell the Islanders to a group of investors led by Barroway for $420 million. Barroway’s suit contended that Wang sought $548 million for the team in June, causing negotiations to end.

Barroway completed a deal to buy 51 percent of the Arizona Coyotes last week and dropped his suit against Wang.

Forbes’ Ozanian seems generally amazed by the deal, only nothing that a possible (but not confirmed) $304 million price for the Arizona Coyotes would make the Islanders’ sale “not that insane.”

A hot ticket in Brooklyn?

Here’s the thing: the Islanders losing ways - at the box office and on the ice - might be fading into the past.

The team’s 4-0-0 record may be a little misleading in some ways (two of those wins came against the fledgling Carolina Hurricanes), but many would agree that the team has a promising roster. That roster is also remarkably clean - there’s something symbolic about Alexei Yashin’s buyout finally being in its last year - as John Tavares’ cap hit remains at a ridiculously low level of $5.5 million through the 2017-18 season. There really isn’t a deal in their salary structure that screams “glaringly bad.”

Beyond that, by moving to Brooklyn, the Islanders could become one of the hottest tickets in town. Ozanian touches on that issue, though he doesn’t sound overly excited:

The Islanders will move into the Barclays Center, which is owned by Mikhail Prokhorov, the majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets and Bruce Ratner, the NBA team’s minority owner, for the 2015-16 season. One reason why the Islanders have been losing money is they have a lease at the antiquated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum that generates scant revenue for the team. The Barclay’s Center agreement will guarantee more money for the Islanders, but not enough to keep them from the bottom half of the NHL.

Perhaps the Islanders will be such a compelling contender by 2015-16 that they’ll be able to make more money from a limited seating capacity (Newsday noted that the capacity was 15,813 during a preseason game on Sept. 21, 2013) than people may expect?

Granted, it’s true that the Islanders would likely lag behind popular teams with cavernous arenas such as the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks, but that doesn’t totally rule out the possibility that the Islanders could grow into a money-making machine in two years, when Malkin and Ledecky go from minority to majority owners of the team.

Either way, it’s obviously difficult to deny that Wang has been rewarded for his patience with selling the team.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins