After 55 years without a professional sports franchise, the borough of Brooklyn just landed two in one month, as the NHL's New York Islanders have decided to move into the brand new Barclays Center, the current home of the former New Jersey Nets. New York Mayor Michel Bloomberg and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will announce the move this afternoon. The Brooklyn Nets just opened the Barclays Center with their first preseason game last week.
The Islanders currently play in the ancient Nassau Coliseum, in the Long Island suburb of Uniondale, which is almost universally derided as the worst stadium in any of the four major sports. They've spent years trying to get a new arena built and even pitched a plan to create a new one in Queens, but taxpayers (or perhaps a greedy owner) have stood in their way every time. Now that an arena already exits and is within reach of their current fanbase—the arena sits on top of a Long Island commuter rail terminal—the decision was easy. According to the New York Post, the team will keep their current name.
The team expects to move in at the start of the 2015 season—provided there is a 2015 season. The league has already canceled several weeks of games in the current NHL season due to an ongoing labor dispute that is nowhere close to being solved. Presumably, concessions were also made to appease the New York Rangers, who longer have the city to themselves.
The Barclays Center was built primarily for basketball, so it loses about 3,000 seats when reconfigured for hockey. At a capacity of 14,500, it would be the smallest arena in the NHL—smaller even than Winnipeg's MTS Center. That's still better than their average home attendance of 13,191 in the roomier Nassau home, and at (presumably) higher prices.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.