New York Islanders Moving to Brooklyn Is Great Move for Struggling NHL Franchise
New York Islanders will indeed be moving to Brooklyn, NY, upon expiry of lease on Long Island.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) October 24, 2012
UPDATE: Wednesday, October 24 at 1:35 p.m. ET by Nicholas Goss
Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press has the details on the Islanders' agreement with the Barclays Center.
The #isles have signed a 25-year lease with Barclays Center starting in 2015-16. Hello Brooklyn!— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 24, 2012
Islanders owner Charles Wang made an effort to keep the team in the New York area (via Dan Rosen of NHL.com).
Bruce Ratner: "Charles got offers to move the team out of our state and very good offers, and Charles wouldn't do that."— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) October 24, 2012
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg also spoke at Wednesday's press conference and is excited about the team's move to Brooklyn (via Katie Strang of ESPN New York).
#Isles Bloomberg:"It's a great day for our city. Who said the rivalry between Rangers and Islanders couldn't get any bigger? It just did."— Katie Strang (@KatieStrangESPN) October 24, 2012
Although the Islanders won't be moving to Brooklyn until the fall of 2015, it's great to see NHL hockey in Brooklyn.
Now that New York City will soon have two NHL franchises, it's time for the league to put a second team in the Greater Toronto Area.
---End of Update---
If the Islanders do make a permanent move to Brooklyn, it would be a great decision by owner Charles Wang.
The Islanders have played at the Nassau Coliseum, which many people view as the worst arena in the league, since their first season in the NHL in 1972-73.
Many fans and media members expected the Islanders to at least think about moving to the Barclays Center when their lease on Long Island expires after the 2014-15 NHL season. The lack of progress made over the last few years in getting a new arena on Long Island has given fans little hope that the team has a long-term future in that area.
Moving to Brooklyn would help the Islanders tremendously. To improve their on- and off-the-ice performance, the struggling franchise needs to be in a better location and play in a newer arena that gives the team more opportunities to collect revenues.
According to data from the 2010-11 season provided by Forbes.com, the Islanders are valued at $149 million (second lowest in NHL), and they earned a league-worst $63 million in revenues.
The Barclays Center isn't a huge building, but as Chris Johnston of the Canadian Press points out, getting 14,000-plus people to attend Islanders games each night would be an improvement for the team.
The Barclays Center holds 14,500 for hockey. Last time, #isles averaged more than that at Nassau Coliseum was 2002-03 (14,930).— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 24, 2012
The Barclays Center can certainly be a good arena to watch hockey, and with a few years to make some needed adjustments, the building should be perfectly suited for an NHL team by the time the Islanders can choose to move in. It opened in September of this year and is the new home of the NBA's Brooklyn Nets, who just moved from New Jersey.
The building has more luxury boxes than the Nassau Coliseum, and there are many ways that fans from all over the New York City area can access the Barclays Center via public transportation.
Playing in Brooklyn could also make the Islanders more attractive to free agents, which has been a problem for the team over the last few years.
While the possibility of moving to Brooklyn will excite many New York-area hockey fans, there are many Islanders fans who would rather see the team stay on Long Island and just put up a new building.
The loyal Islanders fans that have stuck by their team despite its lack of success over the last 20 years will be sad to see their team leave Long Island, but at least the Barclays Center is only about 30 miles away. The team moving to Quebec or Hamilton would be much worse than going from Long Island to Brooklyn.
At the end of the day, moving to a better location and a newer building is good, but what Islanders fans want to see most is a winning team.
The Islanders won four straight Stanley Cup titles from 1979-80 through 1982-83 and were competitive throughout the 1980s and early 1990s.
However, since their defeat to the New York Rangers in the first round of the 1994 NHL playoffs, the Islanders have made the playoffs four times but haven't advanced past the second round. The team's most recent playoff appearance was in 2007.
After drafting several good young players such as Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Strome over the last few years, in addition to the emergence of John Tavares as an NHL star, the future is bright for the Islanders.
Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Boston. Follow him on Twitter.
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