The Brooklyn Nets will have a roommate starting in 2015; the New York Islanders NHL team is moving to Brooklyn. This seems like the best compromise between breathing new life into the franchise while keeping in close proximity with those fans that have stood by the team. Certainly, it’s much more palatable than the rumored move to Kansas City. And why are the Islanders looking to move? Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal:
The question of the Islanders’ long-term home has been up in the air for years.
The team’s current home in Uniondale, N.Y., is considered in need of a major overhaul or replacement, and multiple attempts to pay for a new arena have fallen apart. Voters in Nassau County last year rejected a plan borrow $400 million to help pay for the new arena at a time when the county has been under fiscal strain.
For Mr. Ratner, the arrival of a hockey team would be a big boost for the Barclays Center, which opened last month after nine years of planning. The developer had long hoped to have a hockey team in addition to the Brooklyn Nets. A second professional sports team would strengthen the finances of the project, which, became the most expensive arena in the U.S. with a price tag of about $1 billion.
The Islanders aren’t exactly a glamorous NHL team (which NHL team is these days though, right?) but the Barclays Center was clearly on the hunt for more tenants and the Islanders needed an arena. What seems like a match made on heaven might not be so in practice:
Still, there are significant challenges to bringing the Islanders to Brooklyn. Mr. Ratner made the decision before construction began to build a basketball arena that isn’t quite ideal for hockey.
Barclays Center’s seating capacity for hockey—about 14,500—is much smaller than the more than 17,000 seats available in the arena’s basketball configuration. That would make it the smallest arena in the National Hockey League.
Yeesh. As if the seating capacity wasn’t enough, this basketball arena doesn’t have great sight-lines for hockey, which could lead to trouble. NHL game attendees are there because they love the sport and are genuinely interested in the game; that isn’t necessarily the case for say, the NFL or NBA. As such, the arena will likely endure criticism as a hockey venue under intense scrutiny.
Of course, that’s ignoring the biggest problem at hand. Might they change the name of the relocated franchise? The Islanders brass says they won’t, and my brother says they can get away with “Islanders”. Yes, but even if they could get away with it I would suggest they start fresh; the New York Islanders are the most forgotten about franchise in American sports. I’d suggest Brooklyn Empire like I did for the Nets, but I don’t think it works as well. I think they would opt to keep New York, but the possibilities are endless after that “k”. I for one hope they make the plunge, but only time will tell.