In a surprising move last week, the New York Islanders announced that they would be leaving Nassau Coliseum after their 25-year contract is up and move in to the Barclays Center for their 2015-1016 season.
New York Islanders owner Charles Wang spoke about the move of his team at a press conference at the Barclays Center on Wednesday, October 24.
“Our goal from the outset was to have the Islanders play in a local, world-class facility that possesses the amenities that our fans deserve,” he said.
The Islanders have agreed to a 25-year deal to play at the Barclays Center, but the deal itself is subject to National Hockey League (NHL) approval. However, that – and the fact that a contract dispute between owners and players has put this season in jeopardy - isn't stopping the team from announcing that they are already accepting deposits for season tickets for the 2015 season.
Not originally constructed with professional hockey in mind, the Barclays Center will have the fewest number of seats of any arena in the National Hockey League. While renovations and upgrades could change the official capacity, as it stands Barclays Center can accommodate approximately 14,500 hockey fans.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that with Nassau Coliseum's capacity at just 16,200, hosting professional hockey at the Barclays Center shouldn't be a problem.
“The 1,000 seats, we don't think makes a material difference,” he said. “The intimacy of the building is going to make watching hockey here a terrific experience.”
While the team will be moving out of Nassau Coliseum, the name and logo will be the same. When asked if the team would consider changing its name to the Brooklyn Islanders after the move, Wang said, “We are the New York Islanders.”
But not everyone is excited about the move, including Nassau County officials.
“Charles Wang's decision to move the Islanders to Brooklyn is very disappointing to me as a hockey fan, and for the thousands of residents who enjoyed having a professional team in Nassau County,” said Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos in a statement.
However, the comptroller believes that the area will survive without the team.
“The economic impact on Nassau County, however, will be marginal if the proper steps are taken to ensure that seats are filled in 2015, as they were during the 2004 NHL lockout and the current NHL lockout,” Maragos said. “In 2004, the Islander games were replaced with concerts and other events without economic loss to the county.”
For that matter, not everyone in Brooklyn is happy about the news that the Barclays Center would be hosting even more events. With issues like public urination, traffic and increased pedestrians in the street due to events at the Barclays Center, Danae Ortowski, a board member of Project Heights Neighborhood Development Council, said that she is concerned with the Islanders moving in.
“This is an issue for a lot of people,” Ortowski said, “because people will be coming by car.”
Her fear is that traffic will increase because fans will be coming from Nassau County, which doesn't have as many public transportation options. “There will be more of an impact on local parking and congestion than a Nets game would have.”
Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn said that if the Islanders aren't bringing jobs and affordable housing with them, he really doesn't care that they're here.