The New York Islanders will be headed to Brooklyn, New York during the 2015-16 NHL season to make the Barclays Center their new home. The team and arena announced the news today via a press conference at the beautiful and brand new Barclays Center.
Wednesday morning rumors were swirling and Twitter was aflutter about a possible relocation for the Islanders after the team announced it would be holding a press conference at the Barclays Center around 1PM EST. Those rumors were then confirmed at the afternoon press conference, which featured such heavy hitters as the Islanders owner Charles B. Wang, Islanders GM Garth Snow, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman (boo), New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Barclays Center majority owner and developer Bruce Ratner and last but not least, Barclays Center (and Brooklyn Nets) CEO Brett Yormark.
The relocation to Brooklyn comes after a handful of attempts by Islanders owner, Charles Wang, to get the funding and okay from the voters of Nassau County to build a new arena on Long Island once the lease was up on the Nassau Coliseum (located in Uniondale, NY) after the 2014-15 NHL season. The bid was voted down and thats when the Barclays Center stepped in and did all they could to eventually sign the Islanders to a 25 year lease.
According to many experts, players, coaches, analysts and fans, the Nassau Coliseum is a “dump” and the Islanders needed a new venue despite the Nassau Coliseum only having opened in 1972. Even though the team is moving they will keep their name and logo even after the move.
The Barclays Center was designed and built for basketball games and concerts, so should the Islanders be concerned about seating for hockey? The projected seating capacity for hockey games at the Barclays Center ranges from 14,000-14,500 people. The Islanders average attendance most seasons is right around 13,000 (good for 29th in the league) and the smallest rink in the NHL currently is the MTS Center in Winnipeg, which holds roughly 15,004. Its safe to say the Islanders should have plenty of room at their new home.
The hope is a new venue will help bring some excitement and attendance back to a team that was very popular back in the day after being one of the leagues most successful teams during the early 1980’s. While its tough to tell just exactly how the move will affect the Islanders or other teams across the NHL who could possibly be relocated, I myself am a big fan of this move and hope it works out well for everyone involved. Its important to note that while being located in Brooklyn does make the Barclays Center easily accessible to those who want to get their via foot, cab, bus, train or subway. But it may end up being quite the strain on Islanders fans trying to get from Long Island to Brooklyn. Anyone ever seen rush hour in New York City?
In closing, time will tell if the relocation will work or help out the Islanders in anyway. For now I think we can all agree the Islanders definitely needed a new arena and now they’ve found one.