As I watched the annual New York Islanders Blue and Orange rookie scrimmage game, I couldn't help but notice the constant attempt to pound the idea of the Brooklyn preseason game into my head.
Someone needs to tell them the horse is no longer breathing. Whether it was the ticker, announcer or an ad, I was constantly reminded that tickets are still available for the Islanders and Devils preseason game. I have to wonder why they are pushing so hard for this New York Islanders vs New Jersey Devils matchup in the Barclays Center.
The Islanders continue to force-feed 10 gallons of gas into a 9-gallon tank. The Barclays Center is too small for hockey. Whether it has good public transportation or is in Metro-New York is irrelevant. The arena is too small for hockey and nothing is going to change that.
The Barclays Center would have been a great destination for the team if they had built a big enough arena to accommodate hockey. The arena is not big enough for hockey, and it's doubtful that they are going to completely restructure a building that was just recently built and that is expecting the Nets to move in for the 2012-13 NBA season.
The Islanders need to look in a different direction instead of continuing to force-feed hockey into a building that is too small.
A leaky roof; an asbestos problem. The Islanders need to look into some Long Island home remodeling. What exactly is so bad about the current Nassau Coliseum building?
The ice is still ice, the nets are still the NHL regulation size and getting smacked up against the boards still hurts. Besides the lack of public transportation, leaky roof and asbestos problems, there is nothing wrong with the Nassau Coliseum.
Alright, those are some large issues, but are they impossible to fix? Most of them aren't. If Charles Wang and New York Islanders management thinks that a new building is going to solve attendance problems, they are wrong.
When I go to see the Islanders play, I don't care if I'm in a building made out of cheese and sitting in a chair made out of rocks. I go to see the team, not the arena.
Ask the Mets how much a new building is going to help your attendance. Despite a recently built stadium, accessibility to public transportation and residing in Metro-New York, Citi Field remains just about empty on a nightly basis. You want to fill the seats? Build a winning team.
You can't sit here and tell me that the Islanders are attempting to build a winning team. Sure, they've drafted some good pieces the past years. John Tavares, Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart should be cornerstones for hopefully a soon-to-be-competitive franchise.
However, the New York Rangers sit in the middle of the pack with a $58 million payroll. The New York Islanders are the lowest in the league with a $29 million payroll. Not only is that half the payroll of the Rangers, it is $11 million less than the second-lowest payroll, the Colorado Avalanche.
The Islanders do need changes to their arena. Whether it is a new one, a renovated one or one at a different location, the arena needs some sort of change.
To insist that a new arena is going to help attendance in any sort of way is ridiculous. You can put a circus in the new arena and it won't help attendance.
The Islanders will need to be aggressive in free agency for once, instead of settling for guys like Jay Pandolfo to fulfill the requirements to hit the salary floor. You want to help attendance? Spend money to build a winning team.
Christopher Benini is a New York Islanders Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and can be followed here.
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