The New York Islanders’ future could finally be addressed by team ownership in the coming weeks.Blame it on whoever you want, but the Islanders are in a stadium fiasco that absolutely nobody knows the answer to.
It’s difficult to discern the facts from the fiction; the rumors from the truth. With conflicting reports materializing every day, the Isles’ future has never seemed so — dubious?
Well … it has. If there’s anything we’ve learned over the years, it’s that this organization likes doing things their own way. On a slightly reassuring note, things usually sort themselves out … eventually, at least.
Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about this never-ending saga:
The Islanders can opt-out of their current contract …
Jim Baumbach and Robert Brodsky, local political writers for Newsday, have reported that the Islanders and Barclays Center have 30 days after the end of the Isles’ season — which was Sunday — to “trigger the start of the negotiating window, which lasts until the end of the year.”
If neither side budges, then the Isles could eventually opt out of a deal that former owner Charles Wang once called “ironclad.” Both sides have until January 2018 to opt-out if “good-faith discussions” yield unsatisfactory results.
But won’t be heading to Hartford (or Kansas City) …
While speculation of a move to Hartford or Kansas City sells newspapers, it does not, however, account for reality. If there’s anything we’re certain about, it’s this: these areas may be interested in an NHL team, but that team isn’t going to be the Islanders.
In other news, the area adjacent to Citi Field is more of a pipe dream than a reality, despite Bloomberg Sports’ Scott Soshnick stating otherwise.
Belmont Park will be making a pitch for the Isles …
Empire State Development is “working to finalize” a request for proposal (RFP), said spokeswoman Amy Varghese. If granted, this would allow the “state’s primary business development agency” to develop Belmont Park.
Home to the annual ‘Belmont Stakes,’ otherwise known as horse racing’s final leg, Belmont Park is situated adjacent to an LIRR station and could support a large arena. The New York Cosmos proposed a 25,000-seat soccer stadium that was scrapped last year.
Said CBS Local in September 2016, “wanting a new arena is one thing, while actually jumping through all the hoops necessary to get one built is something else.” Like the Cosmos, the Isles could run into both legal and logistical issues.
To which Barclays Center will be making a counter pitch …
Kevin Law, president and chief executive of Long Island Association, summed it up best: “It makes no sense to build a new arena less than 10 miles away from the brand-new Nassau Coliseum.”
Those are the sentiments of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the group that runs both Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum. It would kill the new Coliseum if a brand-new arena opened up literally down the road. For that reason, Law says that BS&E will be making an offer to Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, the Isles’ owners.
That likely won’t be enough …
Despite a $165-million renovation that beautified its exterior and modified certain specs, Nassau Coliseum still has the same problems that led fans to infamously dub it the “Mausoleum” in its heyday:
“Once you finally enter it becomes instantly clear that the concourses are still far too narrow,” wrote Andy Greene of Rolling Stone. “Getting around feels like squeezing through a crowded subway car during rush hour. There are plenty of new concession stands; the only problem is the lines were so ludicrously long at every single one of them the people in the back probably didn’t make their seats until “Piano Man.” The lines for beer, T-shirts, food and the bathrooms all ran into each other, making it hard to tell where one began and another began. For lack of a better term, it was a complete shit show.”
There are other problems, as well. Gary Bettman, the league’s oft-maligned commissioner, isn’t a fan of the Coliseum. The Isles’ owners, Ledecky and Malkin, are evidently looking to boost their profit margins, and chances are they won’t be able to do so at the Coliseum, which holds 13,000 people.