Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Islanders Moving To Brooklyn

The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that they will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning with the 2015-16 season.

During a news conference at the arena, Islanders owner Charles Wang announced that the team has signed a 25-year agreement to play in Brooklyn. The Barclays Center opened in late September and will serve as home to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

Wang confirmed that the team's name and logo will remain unchanged, proclaiming that, "We are the New York Islanders." He also said the team will honor the remaining three years on its lease at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y., where the club has played since entering the NHL in 1972.

"The 2015-16 season will be our first here," said Wang. He said the new lease was "ironclad" and that he will continue to own 100 percent of the franchise.

Barclays Center reportedly has a seating capacity of about 14,500 for hockey, which would make it the smallest arena in the NHL. The Islanders were scheduled to play the first hockey game in the building -- a preseason game against New Jersey on Oct. 2 -- but it was canceled due to the lack of a collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman did not see the small capacity as a problem, adding that he expected the building to be tweaked to increase the capacity to "15,000-plus."

"A thousand seats -- I don't think it makes a material difference," he said. "It's not an issue."

Nassau Coliseum's seating capacity of 16,234 is the second-smallest in the NHL, and the building is the second-oldest in the League, just behind Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968.

Bettman said he was happy that the team would remain within an easy commute of its fan base, most of which will be a train ride away.

"You don't have to worry about the future of this team," he said. "It's remaining local."

Wang had tried unsuccessfully to build a new arena to replace the Coliseum since buying the team in 2000. The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-83 but have not made the playoffs since 2007. They finished fifth in the Atlantic Division and 14th in the Eastern Conference in 2011-12.

Barclays Center owner Bruce Ratner said Wang had opportunities to move the team out of town.

"Charles got offers to move the team out of our state and very good offers, and Charles wouldn't do that," he said.

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