Is this real life?
The Islanders have an arena deal? On Long Island? The one in New York?
On one hand, it's hard to believe -- after a generation of attempts and failures, earnest steps and missteps, good intentions and cartoonishly-evil opponents.
That this happened so quickly -- from "Hey, how about that parcel of land by the racetrack" to New York State-approved -- would usually provoke even the most cynical to wonder what will go wrong.
But not this time. Not Wednesday -- grand announcement day -- either.
This moment is a celebration of innovation, of entrepreneurship, of being rewarded for doing right and seeing it all the bleeping way through. Co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin got this massive first step done because, from the moment they became the caretakers of Islanders Country, they didn't try to pretend they could go it alone.
Charles Wang, bless every bit of his passionate, independent heart. It was in Wang's nature to refuse to play ball with politicians or anyone else. He believed that if a project was truly worthy, it would be approved on its own merits.
I went to a Lighthouse lunch meeting once with Wang, then-County Executive Tom Suozzi, two Islanders executives/friends of CW and a Nassau lawyer or two. Wang was asked who his lobbyists and partners were. "You're looking at them," he said.
On the other hand, Ledecky, learning from all of the 137 Islanders owners before him, even the convicts, showed up on the New York sports and venue scene and just kept on showing up with his infectious energy and endless smile. He was at the Bruce Springsteen concert and sporting events at Madison Square Garden. Behind home plate and in the Yankees' locker room after a playoff game. Visiting Citi Field. Touring other NHL arenas with Malkin.
Hmm, if you want to build another arena in the New York metropolitan area -- one that by its existence would be a rival for Barclays and the utter failure that is the new Coliseum -- who do you build relationships with? Everyone else.
So here's the roll call, as tough as it might be to believe and (I get it) some to digest.
OakView Group, led by Tim Leiweke, Peter Luukko and many others, is backed by MSG Azoff Entertainment. You know who and what MSG is. Azoff, as many of you know, is Irving Azoff, the music industry titan whose acts -- led by the Eagles -- played at MSG almost as much as the Knicks over the last decade. Then there is Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who loves Billy Joel and Long Island. Hey, give it up for the Gov.; he's been pushing big infrastructure since he got into office.
Holy heck, the Islanders are actually benefitting from it!
There will be another time to wonder about resistance in Elmont, the inevitable political and legal interference, the delays to a shovel in the ground and other steps of construction that will mean another year at the Coliseum. (Did I say Coliseum?) There will be another day to analyze the impact on the John Tavares decision (shall we say, Thursday?).
On Wednesday, Ledecky and Malkin, part-owner Wang and the 100 percent stakeholders known as Islanders fans get to take a bow. This was a collaboration in the most glorious, capitalistic definition of the word.
It's about time it worked out for the New York Islanders.