Brooklyn Islanders? New arena says it’s ready for NHL tenant
Brooklyn … so hot right now, to the point where Grantland is debating if and when New York Knicks fans should turn in their corporate credit cards for the hipster cred of the Brooklyn Nets. Also to the point where the KHL is bringing its product to the Barclays Center next season while a Russian League official talks smack on MSG.
The New York Islanders … so not hot right now, but ready for their retro nostalgia craze to kick in the moment when their collection of young talent matures into a playoff contender. As we've said before, they're the next Chicago Blackhawks — a team the city and NHL fans of a certain age are ready to embrace after years of dismal fortunes, constant uncertainty and Mike Milbury and/or Charles Wang.
By 2015, when their lease with Nassau County is up, the Islanders should be a contender in the Eastern Conference (or whatever it's called after realignment; hey, just trying to be forward-thinking here).
The question Chris Botta's asking in Sports Business Journal: Will they call Brooklyn home by then?
From Botta, who is as connected as they come on this issue:
Asked last week about the possibility of the Islanders moving into his building in 2015, Barclays Center and Nets CEO Brett Yormark said, "We are interested in bringing NHL hockey to Brooklyn. We feel very strongly about Brooklyn as a hockey market and know we can accommodate it from a building perspective."
Yormark also said he looks forward to "continued dialogue" about the Islanders' playing more games at Barclays Center.
The Islanders and New Jersey Devils are schedule to play an exhibition game in Brooklyn on Oct. 2, if Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr will allow it.
What are the other options for Charles Wang? From Botta:
Wang is waiting to hear from another other local options: Queens; and Suffolk, in eastern Long Island, which has undeveloped property suitable for an arena. If Wang, who contends he has lost at least $20 million each season he has owned the Islanders, decides he has no alternative but to leave New York, he will have suitors in Ontario, Quebec City and Seattle, among other municipalities.
We still believe that the NHL wants the expansion money out of Ontario and Quebec City; Seattle, on the other hand, would seem more likely to receive a team through relocation.
More and more, it's looking like the Islanders could be Brooklyn or bust. From BD Gallof, another must-read on the Islanders' future:
As far as many I have spoken to are concerned, it's Brooklyn or splitsville.
"In the end this will only be decided by three people: Charles Wang, Gary Bettman and Bruce Ratner," an Islanders source said, referring in obvious terms to the NHL's commissioner and the kingpin of the Barclays Center. "I would start looking around to see what the Brooklyn arena can handle," the source said, referring to, among other things, a practice facility.
Botta said that Gary Bettman — whose entrance into hockey fandom was through the Islanders — has softened his stance on Brooklyn as an NHL site after initially bristling at its location vs. the location of most Islanders fans.
Brooklyn logo concept art via Corflot.
Here's our coverage of the Brooklyn issue from last summer.