Staten Island columnist wants to build hockey arena, because he doesn’t understand how cities work

New York City has already built several billion dollars of new sports venues for the Yankees, Mets, Brooklyn Nets, Brooklyn Cyclones, and Staten Island Yankees, much of it with public money, but why stop there? There’s still that talk of a $400 million NYC F.C. stadium at the most inaccessible tip of Manhattan, plus why even limit yourself to teams that actually exist?

The idea of a 5,000-7,000-seat indoor entertainment and sport facility with a harbor view hit a nerve with Staten Islanders.

Some folks loved the idea of an Island building large enough to house a minor league hockey franchise and also play host to big-time entertainment.

A few hated it.

Others thought it impossible.

But plenty are interested.

Admittedly, this appears to be less an actual plan than just a Staten Island Advance columnist with a crazy idea and a soapbox. I wouldn’t even have mentioned it, in fact, if not for this quote from a College of Staten Island finance and accounting professor:

“Why not an arena?” asks [Jonathan] Peters, who tried virtually single-handedly for years to get the city seriously interested in a revival of commuter rail service on the Island. “Staten island is the same size as Detroit and Miami. Would people in those cities be surprised if something like that was built in their town?”

Where to even begin? I could start with the fact that Staten Island (population 472,621) isn’t anywhere close to the population of metro the city of (sorry, you know what I meant, right?) Detroit (688,701), but that’d be missing the main stupid here. I hate to even have to point this out, but: The city of Miami (which is indeed about the same population as Staten Island) is at the center of a metro area population of six million people. Staten Island is at the center of a population of 20 million people, of course, but it’s an area that already has multiple sports arenas, and a couple dozen existing sports teams, all of which people can choose to go to instead of the hypothetical Staten Island Ice Weasels. In fact, let’s take a look at what happens when you drop a Staten Island baseball team into a market with five to ten other baseball options, depending on where you draw the lines for “market”:

Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 9.10.50 AMThat’s a whole lot of meh, there.

Anyway, I mostly mention all this just to shake my head sadly at what can make it into the newspaper these days. So long as you can find some half-baked policy claims to point to (“Development drives down crime”!) and some local officials willing to say it’s not a totally crazy idea, that is. If you’re just a regular person who wants to build a space elevator in your backyard, don’t try this at home.

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4 comments on “Staten Island columnist wants to build hockey arena, because he doesn’t understand how cities work

  1. MonkeyWrench: Right, sorry, “city of Detroit” is what I meant above (will fix).

    AP: I guess? Admittedly NYC doesn’t have a ton of 5k-10k indoor venues (Radio City is 6,000, I can’t think of anything between that and MSG/Barclays/etc.), but it still seems like it would have a hell of a time filling dates the rest of the year, especially in a place that’s not easy to get to from pretty much anywhere.

  2. Alumni Hall at St. John’s is 5,000+ seats and the Rose Hill Gym at Fordham is 3.200 seats but neither of those are publicly available and both have concessions restrictions So there is actually a dearth of small to mid-size arenae in the market even while having 5 (soon to be 4 or 3 1/2?) full-size arenae

    It would probably be a positive addition to the city’s entertainment and event infrastructure to have one or more 5,000 to 7,000 seat venues *if* they were publicly accessible. I think that both of the big brooklyn armories are leaving the national guard system. Either of them would probably be a good candidate. I can’t see many people from elsewhere in the city going to a staten island arena.

    But if people go to the ferris wheel and the north shore mall, who knows, maybe an arena would work there also.

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