The governor of Connecticut and the mayor of Hartford are making a play for the New York Islanders.
In a letter to Isles ownership, dated today, Gov. Dannel Malloy and Mayor Luke Bronin wrote, “It has come to our attention that the Islanders may be in the need for a new home after the 2017-18 season. Recognizing that many issues will complicate your decision making, we would nonetheless like to offer Hartford’s XL Center as an option for your interim use. Of course, as we pursue the transformation of the building into today’s NHL standards, we would suggest the building as a long-term solution to your needs as well. We are certainly willing to work with private partners to develop the building you would be proud to call home and to adjust our development plans to the needs of your clubs and fans.”
The Isles reportedly have the option to leave Barclays Center in Brooklyn after next season. They can also be kicked out after the following season (2018-19).
Now, it needs to be noted that the NHL has given no indication that it will approve a move out of the New York market.
“The owners are committed to the franchise, they’re committed to New York and the great fan base that has followed the Islanders,” commissioner Gary Bettman said of the Isles’ situation this past weekend at the All-Star Game. “There are some issues about playing in Barclays that may be fundamental as to the ice system, and that’s not something that can be fixed in the short term. I think, as is prudent, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky are reviewing the situation and looking very seriously at what their options are.”
From the New York Times, on the Isles’ search for a more suitable home:
They reportedly have explored building an arena next to Citi Field in Queens or near Belmont Park. But a new arena, in a metropolitan area that already has four competing for concerts and events, is fraught with logistical and financial problems. Attempts to construct a new outdoor stadium in Queens by the owners of New York City Football Club, the M.L.S. team, have been thwarted by community activists and politicians.
Which brings us back to Connecticut, and this note about XL Center from the Hartford Courant:
Plans are in place for a $250 million renovation that will add a second concourse and get the arena up to NHL standards. Connecticut hasn’t had a professional sports team since the Hartford Whalers left for North Carolina in 1997.
You can read the full letter below, via @newsbell: