The New York Islanders may not have a home in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for much longer.
According to Bloomberg News, citing people familiar with the facility’s financials, the arena has determined it would make more money without the Islanders. Overall, it appears the building believes it would be better off with the Brooklyn Nets, one of the NBA’s top grossing franchises, as its only major sports tenant.
Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the building and the Nets, has since November been seeking an investor to take a stake in both. As of earlier this month, a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season — a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said.
Bloomberg pointed out that “the arena pays (the Islanders) an average of $53.5 million a year in exchange for control of business operations, which includes revenue from ticket and suite sales.”
A Barclays Center spokesperson declined to comment about the report.
The Islanders have called Barclays Center home since the 2015-16 season, after playing their entire existence in Uniondale at the Nassau Coliseum. Since the move to Brooklyn there have been complaints about the ice quality from players and obstructed seats for fans, along with other issues.
At a Saturday news conference during the NHL’s All-Star Weekend, commissioner Gary Bettman was asked about the viability of the building for the Islanders.
“Well, the owners are committed to the franchise. They’re committed to New York and the great fan base that has followed the Islanders,” Bettman said. “There are some issues about playing in Barclays. It may be fundamental to the system, and that’s not something that can be fixed in the short term. I think as is prudent, (new owners) Scott Malkin and John Ledecky are reviewing the situation and looking very seriously at what their options are.”
Ledecky and Malkin have reportedly explored possibilities for a new arena in Queens, potentially near Citi Field, or near Belmont Park – closer to the team’s traditional fan base in Long Island.
In early September, Newsday explained how the Islanders or Barclays Center could opt out of the 25-year lease between the two entities.
After the Islanders finish their second season in Brooklyn, the two sides have until Jan. 1, 2018, to renegotiate the terms of the current deal. If no new deal is reached, the two sides can stay with the current deal or choose to opt out.
Each side would have until Jan. 30, 2018, to deliver an opt-out notice in writing. If the Islanders decide to opt out, the team can choose to leave at the end of either its third or fourth season. If Barclays triggers the opt-out, the Islanders would have to leave after the fourth season.
The team just completed its first season in Brooklyn in May. The opt-out clause can be triggered only if the two sides have engaged in “good-faith discussions” during the renegotiation window, according to the license agreement.
The decision to move games to Barclays Center starting in 2015-16 came in October of 2012 from then-majority owner Charles Wang. In August of 2011, Nassau County voters rejected a $400 million plan for the construction of a new hockey rink.
The Islanders currently have the third-worst attendance in the NHL as 12,828. Last season the team averaged 13,626 per-game, which was also third worst in the league. The building holds 15,795 seats for hockey.
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