If the NHL is back in 2015, the New York Islanders will be playing out of Brooklyn’s Barclays Center for the 2015-2016 season.
The New York Islanders will play out its Nassau Coliseum lease, which ends in 2015. The team will retain the Islanders name — hey. Brooklyn is just on the west end of the same island current hosting the Isles — and Charles Wang will retain majority ownership, although arena owner Bruce Ratner will become a minority owner.
“It was our goal from day one to keep the Islanders in the local New York area.” Wang said. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Barclays Center, a first-class arena. This has been a long journey for the Islanders family starting with our loyal fans, sponsors, and employees. I want to personally thank them for their patience, loyalty, and support. I am excited about today’s announcement and I am looking forward to a long and successful future in Brooklyn.”
“We are delighted to welcome the Islanders to Brooklyn and to bring NHL hockey to the borough for the first time,” Ratner said. “Eleven subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road come directly to Barclays Center at Atlantic Terminal, offering great accessibility for current and future Islander fans. I want to thank Charles for his determination in keeping the team in New York and for having the vision to bring his club to Brooklyn.”
“More than ever before, Brooklyn is the place where everyone wants to be,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. “Barclays Center has already brought an incredible amount of excitement to Brooklyn since opening last month. Now things will get even more interesting, with Brooklyn’s first-ever NHL franchise. Whether or not you’re a hockey fan, more events at Barclays Center will lead to more economic activity and more jobs, and that’s good news for all New Yorkers.”
The move gives Barclays Center a second high-profile sports tenant, joining the Brooklyn Nets (NBA).
There is one downside: Barclays Center was not explicitly designed to host an NHL team, so a little squeezing of fans will be required. Barclays Center will seat only 14,500 for NHL hockey, making it the smallest arena in the league.
The end of the Islanders on the Island will close a fascinating chapter in NHL history. Al Arbour’s New York Islanders were the team to beat between 1980 and 1983, winning four consecutive Stanley Cup championships. That streak was broken in 1984 by the next dynasty in professional hockey, the Edmonton Oilers. Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin and Brian Trottier made for some intimidating opponents at both ends of the rink.