New Islanders owner noncommittal about playing in Brooklyn, Long Island, anywhere

When developer Bruce Ratner signed a deal in 2013 to take over and renovate the Nassau Coliseum, then-home of the New York Islanders, it included an agreement for the Islanders to play six home games in Nassau even after moving to Ratner’s Brooklyn arena in 2015. Ratner doesn’t own Brooklyn’s Barclays Center anymore, though, and the new co-owner of the Islanders, Jon Ledecky, tells Newsday that he’s not 100% sure he wants to go through with playing home games on the Guyland, either:

“I think the key is neither party’s principal [representative] was there when that deal was made,” Ledecky said at a meet-and-greet luncheon with reporters at 21 Club in Manhattan. “In other words, that deal was between Bruce Ratner and Charles Wang at the time and now we’re the owners of the Islanders.”

Besides, Ledecky can’t say enough about how great it is to be in Brooklyn, and is totally not considering jumping back to Nassau County when his lease out clause kicks in starting in 2019, right?

“Obviously we’ll never be able to replicate the home feeling of Nassau Coliseum and I think in the first year people longed for that,” he said. “I know I did. Bluntly, I missed the Coliseum.”

But Ledecky was encouraged by the atmosphere in the playoffs, saying he thought it was even louder than the Coliseum got, and he believes Barclays Center is willing to work with the team to make necessary improvements.

“There were challenges last year,” he said. “I would be lying to you if I said there wasn’t. Does that mean you blow up Barclays Center and leave? No. You try to improve the home you have.”

Yeah, that sounds less like “commitment” than like “keeping your options open.” The Islanders are stuck in Brooklyn for another three seasons, and are surely going to try to build a fan base there and figure out how to make hockey work in an arena that was built solely for basketball. If it doesn’t work out by 2019, though, Long Island is still there. If nothing else, it’s leverage to try to get Brooklyn arena owner Mikhail Prokhorov to do some hockey-friendly upgrades — assuming Prokhorov cares about having hockey there instead of booking more concerts. At least it’s nice to see rich guys exerting leverage on each other for once, instead of on the public, so enjoy this while it lasts.


47 comments on “New Islanders owner noncommittal about playing in Brooklyn, Long Island, anywhere

  1. The renovated Nassau Coliseum, as far as I can tell, will be even less “NHL-caliber” than the previous incarnation. An option between “meh” and “bleh” doesn’t seem like much of an option…

      • It’s not the fault of current ownership. You can blame that idiot Wang for not pitching in and making sure Barclays was built as a multi-purpose arena. But, guess what? He didn’t give a crap because the only reason he bought the Islanders was for the Lighthouse Project. When that failed to materialize he had zero interest in owning the team and cashed out.

        • I fault the decision to stay that arena. Either Ledecky & friends should build a new arena in Long Island or sell the team to one of the 100 billionaires that live in NYC. I mean NYC has no shortage of rich people, no reason we should be staring at a Kia Rio parked behind the glass for 20 years.

          • And every single one of them got a taxpayer funded arena or stadium and huge money behind closed doors on the convicted felon plan in the Bronx or the Madoff plan in Flushing or the Shelly Silver plan at Chase/Cablevision.

    • Hell if I know, but “necessary improvements” means he has something in mind.

      Personally, I’m hoping for one of these:

  2. James Dolan’s boys doing what they do best, inventing their own narrative for their business purposes and careers.

    Never mind with no weekend games after 12/2 the team averaged 14,200 fans in a 15,700 seat building in a sea of Dolan owned media desperately trying to drive them out.

    Ledecky” We are the New York Islanders, with a metropolitan fan base not the Brooklyn Islanders.”

    Ledecky” We are here for the long-term.”

    Maybe Neil should work on Manhattan’s Chase Garden keeping their yearly 48 million dollar check coming in from Cuomo’s, Sheldon’s Silver & Joe Percoco’s Albany while New York’s Barclay’s Center is the loudest NHL arena for playoffs in NYC by a mile compared with the Knicks morgue as usual.

    Now that Dolan owns Newsday again Neil knows where his pr comes from, same as Norman Odor who can’t wait to start writing biased editorials for uncle Pat Dolan.

    Neil’s putting his his NJ Giants jersey to tell us they play in lower Manhattan.

    • I’ve written lots about the MSG tax break, both here and for the Village Voice, Sports on Earth, etc. I’ll write about it again as soon as there’s something to report.

      Anyway, my headline says pretty much the exact opposite of Newsday’s, so I’m a pretty lousy stenographer for Dolan, if you think he’s writing the Islanders articles.

      • Your headline is the opposite of what Ledecky said, that this team is New York.

        Pop Quiz: How much taxpayer money did Charles Wang receive as an NHL owner as he renovated Nassau’s building countless times out of pocket?

        How much taxpayer money did every other NY/NJ receive for new arena’s or tax exemptions.

        Oh yes, Sheldon Silver, Joe Percoco and Cuomo’s friends who work for Dolan voted 6-3 for him to keep his taxpayer check which was 48.6 million this year on 5/14/16 in Albany.

        Guess you missed that one in the Daily News.

        • Let me help you with the answer: Charles Wang never received one penny of taxpayer money from 2000-2015 and had to make a deal to get back part of LH escrow money this year. He was the last to receive an NHL revenue sharing check in 2013 as his money saved Devils, Arizona and many taxpayer supported teams since 2000.

    • @NYIFC:

      Next post please try English, or something approaching it.

      Because if you think anyone understands the point you’re making you’re just kidding yourself

      • Seemed pretty straight forward. He is saying Wang didn’t get taxpayer subsidies and didn’t receive much in the way of NHL revenue sharing.

    • Wow. A whole 14,000 in New York City for hockey? That’s at a NYCFC/Phoenix Coyotes kind of level.

      Don’t wear your arm out patting yourself on the back.

      • It’s about what the Rangers have for games beyond announced fake sellouts when Dolan is done buying back enough seats from Knicks corporate fans.

        Unless the Habs, Devils, Flyers or Islander fans buy the tickets for the true legit sellouts.

  3. You’re never going to stop with this concert stuff, are you? You argued before 2012 that Barclays would never want the Islanders because they’d have to give up concert dates, and it’s like you just refuse to admit that maybe you were wrong. Let me ask you something: if you can’t get the best concerts because you’ve got both a basketball team and a hockey team in the building, then what concerts is MSG losing out on? You’d have to cite national tours that went on during the season that basically skipped over New York, or went to Prudential, because both arenas in the city couldn’t fit them in due to having two teams. Are there any that fit that description? You’d have to look over major in-season tours and see which skipped NY. So maybe your argument is that if Barclays didn’t have the Islanders, maybe–stress on maybe–they could pull concerts out of MSG. But the problem in that argument, if that’s what you’re making, is that a) given that MSG’s concert schedule seems to be just fine, what does Barclays offer that the Garden doesn’t have and b) it ignores what Moody’s said in its most recent affirmation of the Barclays debt: having the Islanders is good for debt coverage. Moody’s said not a word that missing out on concerts–if in fact, that is happening at Barclays while somehow now happening at the Garden–was financially hurting Barclays. So what is your basis for thinking that Barclays is worse off with the Islanders there than opening up more dates for concerts? (Link to Moodys: https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-affirms-Barclays-Center-Projects-Baa3-with-stable-outlook–PR_341411

    • I was definitely wrong that Barclays would rather have concerts than the Islanders, but mostly because I never thought Wang would move to Brooklyn even if he had to give up a big chunk of revenues, but that’s what he did.

      As for now, I’m just questioning whether Prokhorov would bend over backwards to give the Isles a renegotiated deal to keep them from opting out, if more concerts are an option. Assuming the Islanders would want to opt out. Multiple levels deep of hypotheticals here.

  4. The new owner says the Islanders will be in Brooklyn long term and Barclays is our home and your headline says owner is noncommittal about playing in Brooklyn?

    Then you write if it doesn’t work out Long Island is still there?

    Can you be any more clueless, agenda driven, in denial or inept?

    The new owners didn’t spend the money they did to buy NYI to not have a NYC team only to go back to LI which didn’t work and isn’t an option anyway until someone builds an NHL capable arena there which will never happen.

    You and your pal Oder continue to look foolish. Last time it was your wacky stance that Barclays is in a tough financial spot when Moody’s says otherwise and the Islanders help it as there aren’t enough high profile concerts to replace the 45+ games a year that NYI fills Barclays.

    We get it, you never wanted the arena built. But you lost and it is and nothing will change that.

    Your writing is ignorant.

  5. Didn’t know about the six games in Nassau part of the deal… hmmmn.

    As for Ledecky’s comments that “the key thing is that neither principal involved in that deal is still around”, well, unless both parties wish to terminate that part of the deal I’m quite sure lawyers (and ultimately, a judge or two) will see this differently.

    When you buy a business, you also own it’s contractual obligations, good or bad. Parties to any contract can agree to waive any term, but generally speaking even if both agree to do so, one of them is going to feel they need to be compensated for their “loss”… real or perceived.

    Hence the popularity of “no trade/move” clauses in old players contracts… it’s not so much about not being traded a year or two after you’ve actually retired, it’s about getting paid for the tremendous inconvenience of not reporting to the Wizards instead of not reporting to the Bulls…

  6. The six games in Nassau aren’t something that either Ledecky or Wang signed on to, though — it’s just a commitment Ratner made when he owned the Barclays Center: “Hey, I host the Islanders, I can get you a bunch of games.” If he doesn’t, he has to pay Nassau County an extra $1 million a year in rent.

    Whether the Islanders and Barclays have anything in their lease that allows Barclays to shift games elsewhere, I don’t know. But now that Barclays and Nassau Coliseum are two different ownership groups, it would be a lot less likely to be exercised regardless.

  7. Most NY publications and national hockey publications are saying what the Isles new owner said yesterday that the Isles will be at Barclays long term and it’s their home.

    The NY Daily News even opens with this –

    “For those who still believe the Islanders are headed back to Nassau County, you can Fuhgeddabouddit.”

    http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/islanders/new-islanders-owner-barclays-center-home-article-1.2710152

    Yet this fool Neil DeMause says New Islanders owner noncommittal about playing in Brooklyn…..(and if it doesn’t work LI is still there.)

    LOL. He’s only trying to get attention being different (aka clueless) and is wrong again and a terrible “journalist”.

    • Anyway, I’m just looking at what Ledecky said, not at what the press headlines are reporting. He said he wants to stay in Brooklyn, and he expects to stay in Brooklyn, and he wants “improvements” in Brooklyn. That could be “I’m not going back to Nassau under any circumstances,” or “I’m not going to say anything that gives Brooklynites an excuse not to be Islanders fans” or “It’d be terrible if something were to happen to these paratroopers, Colonel.” It’s really hard to say, because he made sure not to show his cards. Which is what you’d expect, regardless of what his plans are, if he even knows.

      • Brooklyn is your word, it’s Msg salesman Peter Botte’s word who needs the Garden for a living and to sell the Knicks everywhere so they don’t go bankrupt or accept Dolan’s one dollar bid.

        Ledecky said in quotes our team is NY Islanders, not Brooklyn Islanders and they are a team with a metropolitan fan base.

        And in July 2011 before any referendum vote Wang said on WFAN 40 percent of season ticket holders came from NYC.

    • You are using the NY Daily News as a source?
      Wow!

      The Isles will be at their current home until they get a better offer elsewhere Former owner Chuckie made a massive mistake when he did not jump in to the arena deal early enough (he was offered an opportunity, but rejected the notion of putting money in to the arena and sharing it as he thought he could dupe the fools in Nassau County into funding his Lighthouse project… which he might have been able to do, if NC weren’t effectively under something close to state ordered administration at the time…).

      The Islanders playing in an actual hockey arena (that they either part owned or shared in a much more attractive financial arrangement than they have now) in Brooklyn would be way better off than they are playing in a basketball arena with just 14k seats there.

      On balance, they may well be better off in the present circumstance than they were at Nassau. I don’t think “modest improvement” should be any owner’s goal, though.

      Even for an owner who made his backup goalie his GM (and fired/paid Neil Smith off to do so).

  8. As I had previously indicated if Prokhorov is willing to spend the approximately $100 million it would cost to renovate the lower bowl and eliminate the obstructed seats the Islanders would not be “keeping their options open”. and would probably commit to Brooklyn for the balance of the 25 year lease.

    The renovation would also mean closing the building for approximately 4-6 months-similar to the MSG renovation(s) so he would also be losing the summer concert and event dates revenue.

    However, if that occurs Prokhorov would probably want to renegotiate the lease so as not to pay the Islanders between $50-65 million a year to play in Brooklyn.

    is Prokhorov really committed to keeping the arena and the building long term or is he still waiting for an offer- way above market value-similar to what S. Ballmer paid for the Clippers to sell?

    The way he has slashed salaries and expenses with the Nets (in order to make the team and arena more attractive to a potential buyer) I think the latter is true.

    Stay tuned.

  9. How exactly would you renovate the lower bowl to eliminate obstructed seats? Those are in the upper bowl, so you’d need to extend both ends to center the rink, I guess? Still not sure if it would work with the rake, though.

    • There are some in the lower bowl in the corners, although the vast majority are in the upper level. There is no fix for the upper level ones save tearing that end off of the building and rebuilding it 80 feet further back.

      • Or they just act like Charlie Jacobs in Boston did long ago, or Sabres and demand a 190×83 rink.

        Our team has to win Stanley Cups playing teams in smaller rinks for generations.

        Would not cost a dime and could be done in a day. If Detroit and Philadelphia can send dead contracts to Arizona to make a cap floor Bettman can do this for NYI.

        • Except that it’s 30-40 feet that are obstructed. Big difference between that and the 7-9 feet in the old Boston, Chicago, and Buffalo arenas.

          • Not even close. Ten feet tops. Msg’s upper deck has same problem on one side.

            And Boston Garden was worse than Barclay’s now for 60 years with scoreboard off center even with 190×83 the upper deck was obstructed with no view of the goal.

          • The distance between the end boards and the faceoff dots is 30 feet. Most views from my google image search show the end seats obstructed until at least the dots (some appear to be shown with the photographer standing and with no people in the seats in front, which would not be the case during a game).

            https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BT-EU4hIQAAI-oO.jpg
            https://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/il.jpg
            http://nyislesblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/westendseats.jpg
            http://pixel.nymag.com/imgs/daily/intelligencer/2013/09/23/23-islanders-hockey-barclays-center.w750.h560.2x.jpg

        • I’m not a fan of wasting lots of money on new arenas–but if a team (or facility) is going to spend that much cash on new digs, plus even more cash to renovate them for hockey–I would hope it ends up with something a little better than the OLD BOSTON GARDEN!!!

          That place, despite the charm of the floor and the good teams (in basketball anyway) was one of the most unpleasant places to watch a game ever. Not a place that is particularly “missed.” Good luck with Bettman on that presentation slide.

          • Plus the AC never seemed to work… at least during the Cup finals in the late 80s… Maybe it worked great in January…

          • That’s not what I wrote and clearly Barclay’s is a state of the art facility inside unlike Boston Garden. What I wrote was 190×83 makes almost all of the seats unobstructed and centers the scoreboard and cost no money.

  10. @G Dud. NYCFC is averaging over 26k a game. And they haven’t received a penny in public welfare. If anything they just committed to provide millions to the city in order to build 50 new fields for a sport people of NYC actually play.

    • Well, they’re playing in a stadium and co-owned by a team that got over $1 billion in public money. But they didn’t get any new public subsidies when the soccer team started up, no.

      • The convicted felon’s family wants them out and want their taxpayer soccer stadium and hotel where the only Yankee Stadium used to be next to the old garages Randy Levine wants to put his paws on.

        • Full disclosure–I am an MLS fan. However, on the question of public subsidies I think the right disclaimer is that they haven’t asked “yet.”

        • The convicted felon’s family is a part owner of NYCFC.

          Those people don’t “want [NYCFC] out” of Yankee Stadium. In fact, they have the team playing there rent-free.

  11. Neil:
    If you remove the permanent seats on the other side of the lower bowl-the side where the permanent stage is not located and center the ice plant so that center ice is where center court is for basketball (i,e., where the scoreboard is centered) you would be able to see the entire rink in the now partially obstructed seats in the end of the arena where the stage is.

    It would mean having removable seats on both sides of the arena bowl not just on the stage side as now.

    It can be done but is means gutting the entire lower bowl of a brand new building and then reconstructing it.

    That is why it is so expensive.

    • Yeah, I’d want to see the geometry on that. I’m more than slightly concerned that thanks to the rake (steepness) of the upper deck you’d then end up with people at both ends not being able to see the near goal over the heads of the people in front of them, instead of just at one end.

      Tearing down and extending the entire northwest end of the arena would work better, but you’d be getting awfully close to the subway entrance then. It was really shortsighted to build the place too small for hockey in the first place to save money, but Ratner had to get his bonds sold by the IRS deadline, and there was an economic crash on, so.

  12. Your right Neil. However in fairness to the majority owners of soccer team they had to take on a baseball partner in order to play within city limits. Also that happen prior to them giving the Yankees a piece of a growing business. They had no choice but to get into bed with snakes in order to do business in NYC. On top of the millions committed to the city of NY. They have also built fields in other cities in the US. Keep the great work.

    • I believe Sheikh Mansour’s wealth allows him never to be forced to get into bed with anyone he doesn’t want to. Even the Yankees.

      That said, I’m sure it was a marriage of convenience between ADUG and Yankees Global that benefits both parties.

      I won’t be surprised if ADUG/CFG announces it has bought out the Yankees in a few years and is building a $300m stadium somewhere in Manhattan. Or a $600m stadium somewhere in Manhattan if they need to do so (or just think they do).

      If ever there was a group that could afford to build the floating stadium (and pay mooring fees… which would surely rise 100% a year once it is built…), this is it. Whatever they eventually do, I would expect it to be spectacular, and maybe financially insane for an MLS team.

  13. www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-21/nhl-s-islanders-said-considering-a-move-to-queens-with-mets-help

    You were saying about how happy the Islanders were in their new home, gentlemen?

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