Frustrated with the pace of his Lighthouse Project and sick of sinking more than $20 million a year to keep the Islanders afloat, Charles Wang has a case of buyer's remorse nine years after purchasing Long Island's hockey team.
"If I had the chance," Wang said, "I wouldn't do it again."
One of Long Island's wealthiest residents, Wang says he has been taking a financial beating ever since he purchased the Islanders along with former Computer Associates executive Sanjay Kumar in June 2000. (Wang bought out Kumar in 2004.)
According to the team's annual audited financial reports that were viewed by a Newsday reporter last month, Wang has spent $208.8 million - an average of $23 million per year - to keep the NHL franchise operating since his purchase. That's after spending $74.2 million to buy the team and assuming $97 million in existing liabilities.
The reports were audited by the accounting firm of Ernst and Young. It was not possible to have an independent auditor or firm examine the reports to confirm the numbers.
This year alone, Wang has provided $33.5 million in 12 payments, said a document provided by Islanders chief financial officer Art McCarthy. There's still two months left on their July 1 to June 30 calendar, but McCarthy hopes the incoming season ticket deposits for next season are enough to push back Wang's next payment until the fall.
"It's ugly," McCarthy said. "Plain and simple, it's ugly."
Wang: Wanted to save team
Still, Wang says he is proud that he was able to save the Islanders from leaving Long Island nine years ago, and that it was important to him that the Island's only professional sports team got a legitimate shot to succeed. Before Wang's purchase of the team, many area public figures asked him to step in - an action that the financial documents show has cost him close to $300 million.
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