Mikhail Prokhorov may be a billionaire basketball guy, but it didn’t take long for him to understand some basic concepts in hockey. In fact, it took him less than two seasons to learn what “dump and change” was all about. Before the conclusion of the New York Islanders’ second season calling the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY home, Prokhorov, who has a 45% ownership interest in Barclay’s Center, appears to be flirting with exercising his option in the lease with the New York Islanders, as per Bloomberg News Monday evening. If he does, the 2018-19 season will be the Isles’ last season at the junction of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues in Brooklyn. Prokhorov also owns an 80% interest in the Booklyn Nets who have called Barclay’s Center home since its grand-opening in September of 2012.
After talks between Nassau County and former Isles’ owner Charles Wang fell through to build a new arena in Uniondale, NY, residents of Nassau County voted in the negative to allow the County of Nassau to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement which would build a new arena for the Islanders. As a result, the Islanders shifted into Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season, where they were welcomed with not-so-open arms. Since the move, there have been numerous complaints from fans regarding transportation to the game, arena staff, limited sight-lines of the action, and the scoreboard that sits offsides, among others. Despite a rich history of tradition and strong fan-base, the Islanders’ bashfully possess the third lowest average fan attendance so far this season at just 12,828, doing better than only the Arizona Coyotes and the Carolina Hurricanes. Additionally, the buzz around the ice conditions at Barclay’s Center was among the poorest in the NHL.
The whole Brooklyn move was an absolute disaster to begin with. Just like the Oceanic Six in the popular TV show “Lost”, the Isles should never have left the Island. Will Benjamin Linus and John Locke be able to convince Isles’ owners Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin to return to Nassau? When the Nassau Coliseum re-opens this coming spring, it will only sit 13,000 for hockey games, which is well below what other arenas around the NHL are capable of seating. Sure, it’s more than average attendance right now in Brooklyn. But if the Isles hypothetically return to the “Barn,” and they return to the playoff picture, 13,000 is not nearly enough.
Rumors swirled months ago regarding a possible relocation to Willets Point in Corona, Queens, right by CitiField where the New York Mets call home. However, the area is now being redeveloped to include residential and retail buildings in an effort to revitalize the area. Thus, Willets Point will probably not be a possible location for a new arena.
Years ago, nostalgic Quebec Nordiques fans would show up at several Islanders games to let the NHL know that the community desires an NHL franchise again. While Las Vegas now has a hockey franchise all set to go, save the players, Quebec was left behind in the current wave of expansion, for now.
On Friday, Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, expressed that the NBA is looking to add two more expansion teams – one possibility being Seattle. Silver said expansion could take place as early as the 2018-19 NBA season. If the NBA does indeed expand into Seattle, I doubt the engineers behind the potentially new arena’s project would make the same mistake that was made with the Barclay’s Center; I would think they would build an arena in anticipation that one day, professional hockey could be played in that building. If the NBA’s expansion plans move on or close to what Silver has desired, Seattle could unfortunately be a potential relocation for the New York Islanders.
There has been no comment thus far from the Islanders’ organization regarding the future home of the New York Islanders.
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