The relationship between the Barclays Center and the New York Islanders hasn’t been a very good one during their first year together.
From a horrible sounding goal horn, that was later replaced, to some of the worst sightlines in the history of the NHL, there have been several issues between club and arena since the 25-year union began last September. What makes it worse is the fact that fans have trouble getting to the games due to traffic and public transportation issues.
There appears to be a way out of this relationship for the Islanders, allowing the organization to find a new venue for its team.
According to the contract between the team and facility, there is a clause that allows the contract to be voided after four seasons. This clause would allow the Islanders to continue playing in Brooklyn for the next three years while plans get set for a potential new arena.
Some locations include near Citi Field – home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets – in Queens or even in Belmont. No stones are being left unturned, and the process of scouting potential hockey-first arena locations has started.
The rumors that the team’s new ownership group, led by Jon Ledecky, has met multiple times with various city officials as well as the owners of the New York Mets – Sterling Equities – about a privately funded arena deal has been mentioned in New York tabloids on more than one occasion.
A new arena would allow the area surrounding Citi Field to see attendance year round, ultimately leading to increased revenue.
Getting attendance to the area throughout the year would be nice for Queens, but a new arena has to monetarily make sense for Islander ownership. There has also been talks of moving into Madison Square Garden, but they were quickly dismissed as they would have to plan around the New York Rangers schedule.
With fans disliking the Barclays Center as a home for the <Islanders and the arena holding so few fans for hockey (max seating 15,795), any sort of drop off in attendance would undoubtedly hurt the team’s bottom line. It wouldn’t be a very good look should the team continue to be a success on the ice, yet have less than 10,000 fans in attendance per game. Lower attendance would lead to those financial problems down the line. Aside from sponsorships, NHL fans are how teams make their money in the form of ticket sales, merchandise and general concession purchases.
The team and arena management staff will continue to publicly deny terminating their relationship, but there are enough rumblings within Islander ownership that seem to suggest that they may exercise the void clause after year four. With no plan in place to leave the Barclays Center, it wouldn’t make sense to come out and say that the team is leaving. By exploring options for a new location, the Islanders could very well be getting all of their ducks in a row before announcing something.
Whether it’s Queens, Belmont or somewhere back on Long Island, it’s just tough to see the team sticking in Brooklyn for much longer. One thing is certain from everyone involved, though: there is absolutely no chance that the Islanders won’t be in New York.