This is part of New York Islanders day at PHT…
The New York Islanders completed their first season in their new digs in Brooklyn, but the move was hardly a smooth one. And there are still question marks surrounding the future of the club at the Barclays Center.
Example: Kyle Okposo, who is no longer with the Islanders after signing in Buffalo this summer, ripped the ice conditions at Barclays Center, calling them “awful” and that it has to change.
Scroll down even further, and the relationship, made official on a 25-year lease, between the Islanders and Barclays Center, with a capacity for hockey set at 15,795, has been tenuous for months.
From the New York Post in February:
Jonathan Ledecky — who heads a group of investors set to replace Wang as the team’s majority owner July 1 — apparently is listening. A source close to the Islanders and other industry sources say he’s enamored with possibly moving the team to Queens or back to Long Island.
In either scenario, a new arena likely would have to be built — an expensive proposition considering it cost $1 billion to open Barclays Center in 2012. Another option is renegotiating the Barclays Center lease to salvage the relationship, sources said.
In addition, there have been issues about seats with obstructed views and players forced to take the Long Island Railroad into Brooklyn from Long Island on game days.
Ledecky said, according to the New York Daily News, that “Barclays is our home.” However, toward the end of last month, a report surfaced in Bloomberg that the Islanders have been in talks with the New York Mets to build a rink next to Citi Field in Queens.
It’s been speculated that the Islanders may be using this as leverage to improve their agreement at the Barclays Center.
That report in Bloomberg also stated a decline in attendance, with the Islanders averaging 13,626 fans, a drop of 11 per cent from the 2014-15 campaign.
Again. This is Year One. And these developments breed uncertainty about the Islanders’ long-term situation in Brooklyn.
The Islanders have hit the 100-point plateau in each of the last two seasons. They made the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Their star John Tavares has two more years left on his current deal, which has a cap hit of $5.5 million. A pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2017-18 season, he’s expressed that he “would love” to spend his entire career with the Islanders. And the new owners seem determined — as they should be — on keeping Tavares with the Islanders.
When it comes to the NHL standings, the Islanders have in recent years been able to build a playoff team, with Tavares as the centerpiece.
The Islanders’ situation at the Barclays Center, however, is definitely in fixer-upper territory. Lower attendance, poor ice conditions, obstructed views in certain seats, transportation issues and reports the Islanders may be looking for an out in Brooklyn all point to an off-ice outlook that doesn’t yet match the optimism surrounding the on-ice product.
If the first year is the foundation, it’s difficult at this point to be convinced the long-term relationship between the Islanders and the Barclays Center is set on solid ground.