NHL: Brooklyn to dump the Islanders?


New York Islanders’ Andrew Ladd (16) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Montreal Canadiens, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017, in New York. (Frank Franklin II/AP Photo)

On Monday, news broke that the Barclays Center may be considering evicting the New York Islanders. The Islanders moved into the Barclays Center at the start of the 2015-2016 NHL season, and are in the middle of their second season in the arena. Since the beginning of last season, the Islanders in arena operations have been anything but smooth. Fans have complained about sightlines, players have complained about the ice, the average attendance has plummeted.

The Islanders currently rank 28th out of 30 NHL teams in attendance this season averaging 12,828 fans per home game. This cannot be blamed on the hockey market in New York either with both the Rangers and Sabers averaging over 18,000 fans per game. With the plummeting attendance the Barclays Center ownership projects that by the 2018-2019 season they will not be making revenue off of the Islanders. Because of this projection it is not hard to see why the Barclays Center ownership is considering opting out of their contract after the 2018-2019 season, which is the first year they are eligible to do so.

With the eviction seeming more likely than ever before, we should take a look at the options the Islanders could call home.

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum- The Islanders could go back to their old arena. However, with Nassau being owned by the same owner as the Barclays Center, that seems unlikely. It is also important to consider Nassau will only be able to seat around 13,000 people for a hockey game after renovations. If the Islanders sold out all 13,000 seats every game, they would still only rank 28th in the NHL in average attendance. Public transportation also fails to provide easy access to Nassau for the masses. A move back to Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is highly unlikely at best.  

Queens- There is some speculation that the team may move to Queens. The proposed location in Queens would be across the street from Citi Field. This would have relatively convenient access to public transportation allowing crowds to easily access the arena. The downsides to this plan are the costs associated with building a new arena, as well as the time it would take since the Islanders could be evicted as soon as June 2019. The move to Queens seems like a feasible option for the Islanders if the announcement that the team’s contract with the Barclays Center will be terminated comes sooner rather than later.

XL Center- A boy can dream. The Islanders could relocate to Hartford; however, they would probably be more likely to dissolve as a team.

Renegotiate with the Barclays Center- This is one of the more likely options. It would take time for the Islanders to build a new arena, or to work out a contract with an already existing arena. Restructuring their current contract so the Barclays Center ownership may make a slight profit is not out of the question as a short-term solution. However, with Commissioner Bettman’s quote over the weekend stating there is a future for the team in New York, just maybe not in Brooklyn, this probably would not suffice as a long-term option for the team.

Jonathan Dupont is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jonathan.dupont@uconn.edu.

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