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ISLES WAR GETS UGLY; GULOTTA CALLS TEAM "PIGS AT THE TROUGH"

ISLES WAR GETS UGLY; GULOTTA CALLS TEAM "PIGS AT THE TROUGH"

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          Nassau County Exec Thomas Gulotta called the owners of
     the Islanders "pigs at the trough," before NY State Supreme
     Court Justice Joseph Burton issued a "temporary restraining
     order barring the Islanders from playing home games outside
     the [Nassau] Coliseum," according to Thomas Frank of
     NEWSDAY.  Following a 6 1/2 hour meeting with team officials
     yesterday, Gulotta called the Islanders lawsuit "nothing
     more than a ruse" aimed at forcing the county and arena to
     give the franchise more revenue from its lease.  Gulotta:
     "They're pointing a gun at the head of the taxpayers of this
     county for their own financial benefit and gain."  Isles
     attorney John Zuccotti said that the team would "obey any
     court order," adding: "We don't believe any judge would make
     us play in an unsafe arena" (NEWSDAY, 9/18).  
          DISPUTE GROWING UGLY: Gulotta said that "99%" of
     yesterday's discussions with the Isles dealt with ways they
     could "obtain a bigger share of the financial pie," and not
     safety conditions at the arena.  Judge Burton scheduled a
     hearing on the matter for next Wednesday, two days before
     the Isles pre-season opener (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18).  But Isles
     President David Seldin said yesterday's meeting was not
     solely about money: "That just wasn't the case.  Safety was
     a significant issue in the discussion" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/18). 
     Flyers Chair Ed Snider, who divested himself from SMG last
     December, "declined to comment specifically" on the
     Islanders situation, but said that the Islanders playing
     home games in the Spectrum while the Flyers played at the
     First Union Center would be "a little odd."  First Union
     Comlex President & CEO Peter Luukko, who called the
     situation "bizarre," said that "if the league calls on us,
     we'll cooperate" (Rob Parent, ESPN.COM, 9/18).