NHL: The New York Islanders Plan to Move to The Barclay’s Center in 2015

The New York Islanders secured a much-needed change of scenery starting in 2015. They will move home ice to the newly constructed Barclay’s Center, current home of the Brooklyn Nets, located in Brooklyn.

The Islanders will play out their current lease at the Nassau Coliseum that will expire in 2015. They will begin a new 25-year lease at the one billion dollar Barclay’s Center for the 2015-2016 season.

The Islanders have struggled on and off the ice in the last few seasons. Poor play and lack of fan support have made very difficult sledding for owner Charles Wang in establishing plans for a new arena. The Coliseum has been deteriorating for quite some time.  Combined with the leagues second lowest seating capacity at 16,234, the Islanders may have never gotten out from underneath that rock.

The Barclay’s center is not currently set up with separate locker rooms for hockey, but Brooklyn Nets chief executive Brett Yormark was quoted as to saying things could be worked out. Take that for what it’s worth this early in the game, but I can only imagine adding locker rooms may be quite difficult this late in construction.

The last proposal for a new arena came in 2001 when voters turned down a $400 million proposal for a new arena. The move to Brooklyn can only bring good things for this struggling team.

An arena in a popular big city will help to attract big market free agents. Having an arena that is more convenient to travel to will provide better fan turn out and support. Most important in my opinion is the new closer proximity to the Home of the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden. This will hopefully renew a once great rivalry that has since diminished due to a large imbalance of talent and fan turnout.

The average attendance to an Islanders game last year was just over 13,000. Expect that number to increase closer to capacity of the Barclay’s Center, which will seat 15,000 plus after hockey renovations are completed.

The move may be troubling for the more diehard fans of long Island and Queens, but with 11 subway lines, 11 bus routes and the Long Island Railroad expect most of those fans to find their way to the arena

The move keeps the Islanders in New York. This was the goal all along for Gary Bettman and the NHL. They have successfully avoided a relocation to Canada or out West.