Photo of Citi Field and Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Image Credit: Patrick Stahl (CC BY-SA 2.0)

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has confirmed that the New York Islanders organization are exploring the possibility of having their own arena built near the Belmont Park racetrack or adjacent to Citi Field in Willets Point. For the Willets Point site, the Islanders have discussed the possibility of partnering with the MLB’s New York Mets. Islanders owner Scott Malkin recently sent a request for proposal to the state of New York for the Belmont Park sight in Elmont, New York.

The New York Islanders had spent 43 years playing at Nassau Coliseum on Long Island before moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn just before the 2015 NHL season. The Barclays Center is also home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. After two seasons at the Barclays Center, the Barclays Center front office has suggested that the arena would be better off financially if the Islanders moved out; opening up those 40+ calendar days for other events like concerts. In other words, the New York Islanders haven’t generated enough revenue for the Barclays Center. The Islanders finished 28th out of 30 teams in NHL attendance for the 2016-2017 season and averaged just over 13,000 fans per game. It also wasn't uncommon for visiting teams to complain about the conditions of the ice at the Barclays Center.

Exterior photo of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Image Credit: Reading Tom (CC BY 2.0)

The New York Islanders and the Barclays Center currently have an unorthodox agreement in which the arena pays the Islanders organization nearly $54 million per season to play there. Not only are thousands upon thousands of Islanders fans pissed that the team left Long Island but there are also many obstructed view seats at the Barclays Center and the arena is one of the smallest arenas in the National Hockey League. A new arena tailored for the Islanders only would definitely provide a better fan experience but what funds will be required to construct the new arena? If there’s one thing native New Yorkers don’t need, it’s an increase in taxes or another sports venue.

Nassau Coliseum, the team’s former home in Helmsdale, New York, recently underwent a $165 million renovation and could serve as a temporary home to the team until a new arena is constructed. However, the arena’s capacity has been greatly reduced and only has 11 private suites. The Islanders organization are currently being guided by the Oak View Group, a company that works in partnership with Madison Square Garden and specializes in the development of sports arenas.




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