Barclays Center (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Islanders dealt with a drop in attendance, obstructed-view seats and further travel times for fans in their first season at the Barclays Center. According to a report, the Islanders could be looking at moving out of Brooklyn and heading to Queens.
The New York Islanders’ first season at the Barclays Center was successful on the ice, but that hasn’t stopped rumors from swirling about the potential for the club to find a new home in the near future.
Last week, the New York Daily News’ Peter Botte reported that new Islanders co-owner John Ledecky had said he believed the Brooklyn-based arena would play host to the club long-term, going so far as to call Barclays Center the Islanders’ “home.” However, according to a report from Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick, the Islanders may be looking into another option.
Soshnick reported Thursday that the Islanders could be looking to move out of Brooklyn and into Queens, where they would build an arena situated near Citi Field, the home of the MLB’s New York Mets. According to Soshnick, discussions between the Islanders and Sterling Equities, the Mets’ ownership group, have been taking place for “months.”
There’s no expected timeline, though, and it’s not as if the Islanders are under any pressure to find a new home anytime soon. The lease agreement between the Islanders spans 25 years, but the rumblings that the team was unhappy with its situation in Brooklyn have been ongoing since early 2016. Reports in February indicated that the Islanders had an opt-out clause with Barclays after four years, but word was the team did not intend to use it.
Moving to Barclays Center was in part done because Nassau Coliseum needed big-time repairs for it to continue to be a viable home for the Islanders, and the move didn’t go over as well as the Islanders may have hoped.
The Islanders ranked 28th in attendance in the NHL in 2015-16, despite putting a playoff team on the ice. That can be partially blamed on the size of the building — Barclays Center is the second-smallest building, capacity-wise, in the league behind Winnipeg’s MTS Centre — but not entirely. New York filled the building to 86.2 percent of its capacity, per ESPN, but that was down nearly 10 percent from the 94.2 percent at Nassau Coliseum in 2014-15. The difference was nearly 2,000 fans per game.
And of the fans that did file into Barclays for a contest, some were unhappy with the sight lines the new arena provided. There are 1,500 seats with an obstructed view in the building, which was designed to be home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. None of this is to mention other quirks, like the oddly off-center scoreboard.
According to Soshnick, making a new home in Queens would be even more appealing “if the Islanders’s owners and arena officials can’t agree on a series of hockey-specific improvements” for Barclays Center. Whether those upgrades come to pass is to be seen.
Whatever the result of this is, though, it’s apparent that the Islanders and Barclays Center have some kinks to work out if they’re going to make the 25-year lease agreement work. Because after Year One, it sounds like the Islanders aren’t too pleased at the prospect of spending another 24 years in Brooklyn.
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