Isle Be Seein' Ya, Isles Heading To Brooklyn In 2015
The long wait is over. The New York Islanders will finally have their new arena once the Nasau County lease expires in 2015. It was announced today that team owner Charles Wang has signed a 25-year lease with Barclays Center Owner Bruce Ratner that will kick into effect for the 2015-2016 season. (Photo Credit: stayclassynet/Flickr)
Per the Isles official press release:
NEW YORK ISLANDERS TO MOVE TO BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN
First NHL Team to Play Home Games in Brooklyn
BROOKLYN, NY (October 24, 2012) -- New York Islanders Owner Charles B. Wang, Barclays Center Majority Owner and Developer Bruce Ratner, and Onexim Sports and Entertainment announced today that the Islanders will move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The 25-year agreement begins for the 2015-16 season.
The announcement was made at a press conference in the GEICO Atrium at Barclays Center, which was also attended by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Islanders General Manager Garth Snow, and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark.
In support of the illustrious history of the team, the New York Islanders name and logo will remain unchanged.
"It was our goal from day one to keep the Islanders in the local New York area." Wang said. "We're thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Barclays Center, a first class arena. This has been a long journey for the Islanders family starting with our loyal fans, sponsors, and employees. I want to personally thank them for their patience, loyalty, and support. I am excited about today's announcement and I am looking forward to a long and successful future in Brooklyn."
"We are delighted to welcome the Islanders to Brooklyn and to bring NHL hockey to the borough for the first time," Ratner said. "Eleven subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road come directly to Barclays Center at Atlantic Terminal, offering great accessibility for current and future Islander fans. I want to thank Charles for his determination in keeping the team in New York and for having the vision to bring his club to Brooklyn."
"More than ever before, Brooklyn is the place where everyone wants to be," Mayor Bloomberg said. "Barclays Center has already brought an incredible amount of excitement to Brooklyn since opening last month. Now things will get even more interesting, with Brooklyn's first-ever NHL franchise. Whether or not you're a hockey fan, more events at Barclays Center will lead to more economic activity and more jobs, and that's good news for all New Yorkers."
"Today is another great day for Brooklyn," BP Markowitz said. "When I first campaigned for Borough President, I made the promise that I would bring a major-league sports team to Brooklyn. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I think we would be home to both the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders. With the Nets and the Islanders, Brooklyn is beginning a dominant power-play."
"The Brooklyn Nets are excited to welcome the Islanders to Barclays Center and Brooklyn!" Yormark said. "Barclays Center will offer the Islanders with an exciting opportunity to grow their fan base and to build their brand. Islander fans are going to love Barclays Center for its intimacy, sightlines, Brooklyn Taste culinary program, and customer service. We are looking forward to opening our doors for the Islanders and bringing the best in sports and entertainment to Brooklyn."
Barclays Center will hold 14,500 seats for Islander games. Current Islander season ticket holders will have first rights to purchase season tickets in Brooklyn.
The NY Post reported that Bettman was informed by arena officials that plans are in place to eventually provide around 15,000 seats for hockey games in the future.
Fortunately, the team will be keeping its name and logo, something that was an immediate concern for many fans as soon as the rumors started to hit the Internet before the press conference. There is simply too much history behind this franchise to watch it thrown away to new colors, names, and logos.
Brooklyn is still geographically part of Long Island and isn't much farther west from Uniondale, but the commute for fans has certainly gotten a lot longer for Nassau, and especially Suffolk County fans. However, fans can take the LIRR to the Barclays Center in most likely under an hour, depending on where they are traveling from.
But for some fans, such as myself, losing the Coliseum might mean a lot more. I didn't grow up during the 80's, so I only have the video highlights and stories to see how dominant the Islanders were during their dynasty years. But that doesn't mean I don't have a lot of fond memories and moments that I am going to miss once the Coliseum is gone.
I wrote an article before the August 1st vote of 2011 that shared some of those moments with my readers, explaining why the Islanders and Nassau Coliseum have been so important to me over the years. That building is basically responsible for the friends I have today; for relationships that I've had in the past; for family outings with my Dad and brother; for seeing an iconic band like Metallica, who I've loved since I was in grade school; for getting me into hockey, which turned me into a player, official, coach and credentialed blogger.
That building is responsible for where I am today.
The Coliseum will be here for another three years, but I am going to be losing more than just a building once it is gone.
On a larger scale, the County is going to be losing millions of dollars in revenue per year by losing the Islanders and Nassau Coliseum. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, who swore he was working hard to prevent something like this from happening, stated that they were looking into plans to develop the Hub with or without the Islanders. Well, now the political leaders of Nassau County have their hands full and might want to start taking things a little more seriously since the only thing that was worth visiting on Hempstead Turnpike is soon to be without a tenant.
Whichever way you slice it, this is still a win for the New York Islanders and their fans. The team should keep the majority of its fan base and will likely gain more with a new building that is shared with another sports franchise, the New York Nets, which should help attract more sports fans to the area.
The Islanders/Rangers rivalry won't die either. If anything, since the team is keeping its name, it might just get better due to the closer proximity between both teams.
And finally, maybe Garth Snow can lure in some top free agents with a guarantee of playing in one of the newest sports facilities available.
Charles Wang might event want to start building this team up a bit more over the next few years so he can put a winning product on Barclays Center ice as soon as the puck drops instead of just a young and developing team.
But that is neither here nor there at this point since the NHL and NHLPA are still trying to work out a new CBA deal. Until hockey is actually back in action, Snow and Wang's actions, as far as signing top UFA's, is a moot point.
For now, Islanders fans can take solace in knowing that their team is not going to Kansas City, Seattle, Ontario or any other rumored destination that has popped up in the past. This drawn out dramatic saga has finally reached it's final chapter. Push came to shove, Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead never got their acts together and did not take Wang's words seriously.
I hope they are kicking themselves right now for realizing what they have lost.