August 02, 2011
The New York Islanders have a lease agreement with the Nassau Coliseum through 2015. Following Monday night's rejection by voters to use $400 million in public funds to construct a new stadium complex, where they go after that is anyone's guess.
Which brings us to Brooklyn.
As Chris Botta wrote last night on NYI Point Blank, owner Charles Wang has spent the last 11 years avoiding heavy flirtation with other municipalities, but it's probably about time to begin sending some secret admirer notes. That doesn't necessarily mean negotiating with other markets in preparation of 2015 — if the Islanders can't remain in Uniondale, they could still remain in New York.
Brooklyn's going to be chief among those options because of Barclays Center, where the New Jersey Nets are scheduled to relocate, and because of the undeniable nostalgic enthusiasm whenever the topic of a sports team arriving in Brooklyn comes up, each one a small Band-Aid on the still-gaping wound left by the Dodgers.
So already there's Brooklyn Islanders chatter after Monday's vote. Question is whether it's even a conversation worth having.
From the NY Post's Rich Calder, who blogged about the Brooklyn Islanders at 4:10 a.m. on Tuesday morning:
Arena officials yesterday confirmed the Barclays Center will be fitted with an NHL-regulation size arena when it opens in Sept. 2012, although they declined comment on potential interest in the Islanders.
The arena holds 18,000 seats for basketball, but some seating would have to be removed to accommodate hockey. Sources said the arena could hold about 14,500 seats for hockey.
That cozy capacity is roughly 1,750 smaller than Nassau and 515 seats smaller than MTS Centre in Winnipeg (15,015), which had to overcome the stigma of being "too small" for a return of the Jets. It would be, however, 52 seats larger than the old Boston Garden. Which was built in 1928.
But the NHL is highly unlikely to approve a move. Barclays Center, since being downsized in 2009, can handle 14,500 for hockey (with bad sight lines), 2,000 fewer than Nassau Coliseum, the smallest NHL arena. Moreover, officials of Forest City Ratner have publicly and recently said they deliberately abandoned the idea of an NHL tenant when they downsized arena plans to get Barclays Center financed.
"We made some pretty deliberate decisions early on: we weren't going to have a [professional] hockey team," said Bob Sanna, FCR's vice president for construction, in April. The arena is being fitted for college hockey and ice shows.
Still, Brooklyn's leadership thinks it could work. From the Post:
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said "Brooklyn is the only place" the Islanders should consider moving to. "The Islanders belong in Brooklyn," he said. "We've got lots of hockey fans, and since we're technically still on Long Island, they can call themselves the 'Brooklyn Islanders.'
"If they come here, I would personally take the first spin on the Zamboni."
Oh, well, in that case, why even have a negotiation? SOLD!
As we said last night, there are going to be other options for the Islanders to remain in New York. The public option from Nassau County is probably dead, but their status as a New York franchise isn't. Could they move to Brooklyn? Perhaps, although one imagines having a huge chunk of arena revenue would be desirous for whoever owns the team, and that might not be the case in The House That Ratner Built.
Only one thing's for certain about the Islanders and Brooklyn: Third jersey, all black, with the work BROOKLYN on the front, and you'd need a NASA super computer to count the money that'd bring in. Spike Lee alone would drop six figures.