The New York Islanders might be running out of places on Long Island that they can call home. On Tuesday, the Barclays Center, which has served as the Islanders’ home for the past two seasons, officially notified the NHL team that it was opening a window to renegotiate the 25-year lease between the team and the building, serving as notice that the team is running out of time to find a long-term solution for the arena problem that has plagued it for years.
Newsday reported that Barclays Center’s decision means that the New York Islanders and Barclays Center have until Jan. 1, 2018 to either negotiate a new deal, stick with the existing deal, or choose to opt out of the deal. If either side goes for the opt-out route, they would have to present the other side with their decision in writing no later than Jan. 30, 2018.
Under the terms of the opt-out clause, the Islanders would have the choice of whether to leave after the 2018 season or the 2019 season if they are the ones who trigger the clause. If Barclays Center triggers the clause, the Islanders would be forced to leave after the 2019 season.
The move comes as little surprise given the tenuous marriage between the New York Islanders and a building that was never intended to be their home. Barclays Center opened in 2012 as the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and has always been an awkward fit for hockey because of the position of the scoreboard and the presence of obstructed view seats. The Islanders moved there in 2015 because of chronic problems with their original home, the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.
Tensions between the team and the building escalated in January when Bloomberg News reported a meeting that suggested that Barclays Center would actually make more money without the Islanders’ 41 home dates on their calendar. According to Sportsnet, the report speculated the Islanders would contribute no revenue after 2019, suggesting that their days in Brooklyn were numbered.
The renegotiation likely signals that the Islanders will have to seek an alternate plan within two years. The team has submitted a proposal to build a new hockey arena near Belmont Park, but there is no guarantee that the arena would be approved. The team’s former home, the Nassau Coliseum, just underwent a $165 million renovation, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has insisted that the 45-year-old building is not a long-term solution.
The New York Islanders are unlikely to leave Long Island, but if they did, a possible destination could be Hartford, Conn. The Nutmeg State’s capital has been without NHL hockey since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997, and Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy and Hartford mayor Luke Bronin offered the Islanders the use of the Whalers’ former home, the XL Center, in February. Such a move would put the Islanders in the same state as their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, but the team has stated repeatedly that their preference is to remain on Long Island as the New York Islanders.
Readers, do you expect the Islanders to stay at Barclays Center past 2019? What should they do about finding a new arena if they are evicted? Where would you put a new arena on Long Island? Sound off in the comments below and like and share this story!
By Dan Angell