Between the future at Belmont Park and the Coliseum reunion, the New York Islanders are preparing to bid farewell to Brooklyn.A relocation was inevitable from the beginning, and now both the New York Islanders & Barclays Center management will finally get their wish.
From the moment the puck dropped on Oct. 15, 2015, for the Islanders’ inaugural game in Brooklyn, criticism peppered the Islanders as a whole. Obstructed sightlines, an off-centered scoreboard, an arduous commute, and perhaps the most painful of the lot was being treated as the second fiddle to the arena’s Brooklyn Nets, whose merchandise littered the arena throughout the Isles tenure.
Relations between the two are at an all-time low, highlighted by Barclays CEO Brett Yormark’s backhand to the organization with his “rent-a-team” comment. Barclays know they made a bad deal when they agreed to pay the Islanders $53.5 million per year after an unsuccessful cultivation of a local fanbase.
That being said, none of this is anything new.
Relations between both parties have been rocky since the beginning. Fans recall the rocky first couple of months of the Islanders-Barclays relationship.
Basic hockey traditions such as watching warmups along the glass were prohibited, including a ban on the ‘If you know the Rangers suck…‘ chant which was restored days later only after strong fan backlash.
The entire frustration of the fanbase was perhaps best encapsulated with the most detested jersey in franchise history since the fisherman logo.
All of this doesn’t even include the dismal attendance numbers for what became the NHL’s smallest arena behind Winnipeg’s MTS Center. The Islanders have been at the bottom of the league in attendance since moving to the Barclays Center, falling to an average of 12,002 in the 2017-18 season. The Islanders were never going to rebrand themselves for the move to Brooklyn, little was done on Barclays end to familiarize themselves with being tenant to an NHL team.
It seems that finally, all troubles will be put to bed.
Chris Botta of Islanders Point Blank recently learned through two anonymous sources that the Islanders have an agreement in place to spend what would be the first two years of the Belmont Arena tenure at the Coliseum in-case construction stalls on the Isles future home.
Though construction is right on schedule, a project of this magnitude and complication is likely to hit snags along the way, and the Islanders are smart to have a backup plan in place which can help repair relations with the Long Island fans and BSE (Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment).
ESD board today approved amending its contract with a legal firm to help ESD in the Belmont environmental review process, namely preparation of environmental impact statement. (Firm had $100G contract; now to get $500G, paid by Isles group.) What does this mean? It's progressing.
— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) July 19, 2018
The most interesting note, however, is that the Islanders will likely end up playing all regular season & playoff games at the Coliseum as early as the 2019-20 season, cutting out the Barclays Center altogether for the better of both parties.
Being that BSE owns both areas, they have been pushing the Islanders to make a full-time return to the Coliseum since the Islanders played their preseason game against the Flyers last September.
Barclays management isn’t oblivious to how important it is to have the Islanders back in their rightful home on Long Island, and the Islanders ownership group will do anything to push the team back to the Island in anticipation for the franchise’s state-of-the-art arena.
Things haven’t been easy in the slightest over the last three seasons, and both parties will happily agree to put this entire nightmare to bed when the soonest opportunity presents itself.