New York Islanders' Move to Brooklyn Could Have Repercussions in Oil Country

Dan RudakoffContributor IIOctober 25, 2012

General view from the upper decks of the ice and seats at Rexall Place, a hockey and lacrosse venue and the home of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, mid 2000s. Rexall Products bought the naming rights of the arena in December 2003. (Photo by Tim Smith/Getty Images)
Tim Smith/Getty Images

On Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported that the New York Islanders announced a plan to relocate to Brooklyn starting in 2015 (h/t TSN).

The move comes after several years of struggling to come up with a plan to either renovate the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, first opened in 1972, or build a new building in Nassau County.

The current lease with the Nassau County expires in 2015, at which time the Islanders will begin a new 25-year deal to play at the brand new Barclays Center.

In August 2011, voters in Nassau County turned down a proposal to use taxpayer money to construct a new building for the Islanders.

That should sound eerily familiar to Edmonton Oilers fans after their own struggles with the possibility of a new arena.

On October 17, Edmonton City Council elected to walk away from a deal struck in 2011 that would have seen them fund the construction of a new $475 million arena in downtown Edmonton. That number has since swelled to over $700 million.

In that case, Oilers owner Daryl Katz made a last-minute request for even more funding, with the Edmonton taxpayers footing the bill.

Earlier in October, Katz spent time in Seattle and ESPN even detailed the possibility of Alberta’s capital losing its hockey team.

While the deal falling through on Long Island was several years in the making, the beginnings have started in Edmonton, which is in need of a building upgrade itself.



Rexall Place in Edmonton, which opened in 1974, is the third-oldest building in the NHL behind the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden, which opened in 1968.

Rexall is also the third-smallest building, with a capacity of 16,839. The Coliseum is the second-smallest with a capacity of 16,250, while Winnipeg has the smallest-capacity building with only 15,015 available seats for hockey games.

Coincidentally, the Islanders would not be the first team to leave the Nassau Coliseum and end up in Brooklyn. The NBA's Brooklyn Nets, who will begin play this season, played in the Coliseum from 1972-77 before leaving for New Jersey.

The Nets will open the Barclays Center on November 1 against the New York Knicks. They will be the building's only tenant until the Islanders move to join them.

As for the Oilers, Katz claims the team, which he bought in 2008, has been losing money over the past few seasons and a new building, coupled with retail and office space tied to the facility, would be beneficial for both the team and the city and is well within Edmonton's financial capabilities.

That is, as long as he does not have to pay for it.

Obviously, a move away from Edmonton is far from imminent, but it is something Oilers fans may want to start looking into if a deal for a new building is not worked out soon.