Weighing The Possibilities In Brooklyn

(Photo Credit:  threecee, Flickr) 

These are the type of conversations that are considered circular. After the endless banter, speculation, denial and rejection it is hard to decipher fact from fiction. There is no beginning, no end. There is no resolution nor a right or a wrong answer. There is simply the one fact that Brooklyn remains an option that should be considered by the New York Islanders.

Some people think the team could pack up their possessions on a stick wrapped in an Islander bandana, show up and paint the Islanders logo on ice and call it a home. Then there are the reasonable thinkers, those that know there is more to this that needs to be hashed out before this move is even considered.
 
First off, Brooklyn is trendy. When people think about the “new” Brooklyn, they automatically think of Williamsburg complete with the hipster labels. These hipster labels come with the faux vegetarians, riding bikes, drinking over priced craft beer and dressing poor but having money. (Photo Credit:  kkthemook, Flickr) 
 
Brooklyn is not like that everywhere. If you go through the communities, you will realize that this is an untapped market that can be utilized from a business stand point. There are a lot of young people living there, starting careers that couldn’t be had on Long Island. Brooklyn is on the up-swing in population and money being spent. 
 
But is that a direct correlation to hockey?
 
Not so fast. Is it possible that the emergence of John Tavares in their backyard paired with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson would be enough to build a fan base in the area? It could but it all comes back to the same solution that would solve most of our woes in Uniondale.
 
We need to put a winning team on the ice that attracts new and old fans to spend the money and enjoy a product. If the Islanders consistently won games, championships and divisions, you think free agents would shy away from signing here? All of this works hand in hand.
 
The fan base has shown as recently as 2007 that if there is a commitment to winning, they will show up. Those “dump”, “old” comments quickly turn to “character” and “charm.” Winning cures a lot.
 
Another concern is the capacity in an arena not intended for hockey in its construction nor its inception. The hockey set up seats 14,500 compared to the 16,234 at the old barn. From a financial stand point that is almost 2,000 less people providing money into Mr. Wang’s pocket. This would be the smallest arena in the NHL in terms of seating.
 
But even in arguably our best team in the last 20 years, the 2002 squad, only averaged 14,548, according to Hockeydb. I think it is safe to say, we have had enough sample size to determine the correct amount of seats that would be good for this team.
 
The argument against this is that when the rebuild is done and the team is successful, you don’t want to be trapped in an arena that will leave us in the attendance basement with nowhere to go. But I would contend that making sure we have a full house on an almost nightly basis would be good for everyone involved.
 
The empty seats are disheartening on TV and live at the game. It is a simple concept of supply and demand. The Isles obviously have excess seats in their home arena if they are only able to sell out against the Rangers and ¾ of the fans that show are wearing blue and red. Create a commodity comparable to what the Dodgers brought to Brooklyn all of those years before moving out West. Ebbets Field was quaint in comparison to other stadiums.  
 
The seating is unorthodox. The seating chart provides a horse shoe pattern around the rink. But that could be changed after the ice is put in and the preseason game between the Devils and Islanders is finished. Consider that game a test run. It is no coincidence that on the Barclays Arena site, there is no picture of the Devils to be found on this event page. There is only one big Islanders logo. They want them there. There needs to be more research done on whether this could actually work.
 
Finally, there is the issue that no one wants to face head on. If they move to Brooklyn, they wouldn’t be Long Island's team anymore. By having them in Uniondale, they are a drive away. You can decide on a whim that you want to go to an Islanders game as close to an hour before it starts. All you have to do is get some friends together, throw on a jersey and you are good to go.
 
However, 2015 is approaching quickly. We are watching the sand slip through the hour glass and we do not want time to expire on this beloved franchise. Ideally, Long Island was a great home but Nassau has stood their ground in this process of trying to get a new arena. As a franchise, the Islanders need to stop grasping at straws and face the reality: "Is this team running out options here?" If not Brooklyn then where else can they go? Charles Wang has vehemently expressed his promise to not play in the Coliseum past its lease expiration date in 2015.
 
Best case scenario would paint Brooklyn as a 'lay over' of sorts. I believe the ultimate, final home for years upon years is Queens near Citi Field in Flushing. However, if this would be realistically done by the time the 2015 deadline expires, the Isles would need to have ground broken in construction by this fall or early winter in 2013.
 
An arena takes about two years to complete but you want to leave some room for error just in case something goes wrong. With negotations moving at a snail's pace, the Isles could be left out in the cold even if an agreement is made. Brooklyn is the perfect temporary home while until they get back on their feet.
 
Call it crashing at your brother's place after getting fired from your job.
 
The Islanders go way back with the Nets anyway and are a match made in heaven. Both organizations are the two younger brothers of their MSG counterparts. I would love the Islanders playing in Brooklyn temporarily for about two to three seasons instead of the alternative. The possibility is real that this team of young and promising players that are ready to bloom into an NHL contender may move to a place like Quebec. Fan bases without a team are salivating at this young roster. As an Islander fan, I want certainty and right now Brooklyn is our only option if something cannot be agreed to soon concerning our own home.
 
Even if you hate the idea of Brooklyn, ask yourself a question. Would you rather be able to take a train to the game or have to watch them raise the Cup in Quebec or Kansas City? Fans have sat through this rebuild and were patient. Why let another city enjoy the fruits of the Islanders’ labor? Let’s not be the Nordiques having to watch the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup after they saw this building come up with Forsberg and Sakic. Let’s avoid being the Whalers watching the Hurricanes raise the richest prize in the game just a few years after their departure.
 
Let’s avoid the heartbreak and weigh the options we have left.