Fighting an identity crisis, adjusting to a new head coach and scrapping for a playoff spot, the New York Islanders hearing that Barclays doesn’t see them as “worth it” has to be a kick in the teeth.
Working under one of the oddest deals in the NHL, the New York Islanders have called Brooklyn’s Barclays Center home for the past season and a half. Tenuous at best since its inception, the end of the Isles tenure at New York’s best concert hall may be drawing near.
According to a Bloomberg report released today, Barclays insiders are rumored to believe that the arena would be more profitable without it’s newest lessee present. Arena ownership may choose to instead streamline it’s offering to strictly the NBA product and concerts/shows. Barclays currently pays the Isles owners a reported $53-55MM annually in exchange for running the Isles’ business operations, taking revenue from ad sales and tickets & suite deals.
There are two points in the next 30 months when the 25-year lease would be able to be vacated prematurely. The Islanders can terminate their end of the deal as early as the end of the 2017-18 NHL season, while Barclays Center can opt out at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. (CBS Local).
The Islanders are currently 27th in the NHL in terms of per-game attendance (which is a percentage of arena capacity, not a straight count). In fact, they have only been better than that once since the 2004 lockout season: they ranked 25th in that category during the 2014-15 season, their swan song at Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum.
Attendance has long been a problem for the franchise, one which Barclays execs likely believed they could get their hands around and fix with a limited re-branding of a team featuring one of the NHL’s premier talents in John Tavares being showcased at a world-class arena in the world’s most profitable media market.
Reality has not met with projections or expectations … for anyone involved.
Fans have complained about the arena’s inability to cater to a hockey crowd (area hockey fans are unlikely to forget this security fiasco), poor lines of sight and the fact that the LIRR has not made it easy to get from Nassau and Suffolk Counties to Atlantic & Flatbush. Players have complained about the poor ice quality. Add that to the fact that the only ones making money off the deal are apparently the Islanders and eventually something’s going to give way.
Two years in, it appears as if the same execs who wouldn’t commit to a full re-branding are re-thinking the entire deal and it begs the question: where could the Islanders end up?