The New York Islanders press conference at Barclays Center about their impending move to Brooklyn just wrapped up — you can read my liveblog here. The important highlights:
- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said maybe a few hundred to a thousand seats can be added to the arena’s 14,500 hockey capacity, but in any case, given that Winnipeg’s arena is only 15,000 and Nassau Coliseum only 16,000, “it’s not an issue.”
- The lease will run from 2015 through 2040, and according to Islanders owner Charles Wang, “The lease that is signed is ironclad. We have 25 years with the Barclays Center.”
- The decision was only officially made last night, though obviously it’s been under discussion for a while.
- Wang wouldn’t talk specifics about how much rent he’ll be paying to Bruce Ratner, or other financial details of his lease. “It’s obviously very skewed toward attendance and how we do,” he said. “We believe that if we move to a facility like this, we will do better.”
So, obviously I was dead wrong when I said that an Islanders-to-Brooklyn move was unlikely, and any concerns over capacity and the Islanders being tenants in someone else’s building paled in comparison to being able to tap into what’s looking like a lucrative Brooklyn market. If there’s a lesson here, it’s that while most stadiums and arenas aren’t cash cows once you take construction costs into account, and most team owners’ goal is to be the primary tenant in their own arena, not all buildings — and markets — are created equal, and things can work very differently when a market the size of New York City is involved.
Which, of course, raises the question of whether New York City and state should have driven a harder bargain about getting the Barclays Center built in the first place, now that it turns out that teams need Brooklyn more than Brooklyn needs teams. I’d ask Mayor Bloomberg, but he’s already left the building…