The New York Islanders, long the lone major league sports franchise on Long Island, is relocating to the Barcley’s Center for the 2015 season. The Isles, who currently call the rundown Nassau Coliseum home, have been trying to secure a new arena on site for more than a decade with no luck. The move to Brooklyn satisfies the main goal of Islanders management – keeping the team in the tri-state area and away from a Canadian relocation, “You don’t have to worry about the future of this team,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s remaining local.”
The new deal at Barclays will keep the team in Brooklyn for 25 years, starting in the 2015-2016 season. However, majority owner Charles Wang maintains that the Isles will keep both their name and logo, unlike their fellow Barclays inhabitant Nets. The Barclays Center is located at one of the major New York City transportation hubs, making it a great location for the Isles, a majority of whose fans live outside the five boroughs (predominantly on Long Island).
Although the move will definitely shift their fan base slightly and bring them closer to the well-established and more successful Rangers, the NHL believes that there is still room for another hockey franchise in NYC. Another possible drawback of the Isles move is that the Barclays Center holds only 14,000 seats for hockey, more than 1,000 seats below the current lowest capacity stadium at Winnipeg. However, plans are already in motion to add roughly 1,500 seats for NHL games, roughly equating to the former Nassau Coliseum’s capacity of 16,000.
All in all, I think this a positive move for a franchise that desperately needed a new arena and more media attention. Nassau was home to the dynastic teams of the 1980s, but with the building falling apart, it was definitely time for a change.
“It will be tough leaving such a historic building on Long Island, but we need a new rink and Barclays is a state-of-the-art facility that will be a great home for us,” Islanders winger Matt Moulson told ESPNNewYork.com via text message. “I hope the fans that have stood by this team through good and bad times continue to support us on our quest for the Stanley Cup.”
Hopefully for Islander fans, the relocation will provide the team a spark and create more interest in a franchise that desperately needs to get out of the shadow of the Rangers and Devils.