Hartford offers to host Islanders if they’re left homeless, gets into this headline

With the New York Islanders potentially homeless starting in 2019, it was only a matter of time before other cities eager to lure a hockey team started throwing their hats in the ring. And first up is … nope, not Quebec. Not Seattle, either. Think closer to home — yep, you’ve got it:

[Connecticut] Governor Dannel Malloy and [Hartford] Mayor Luke Bronin … sent a joint letter addressed to New York Islanders ownership Friday inviting the NHL club to play at Hartford’s XL Center…

“This is a ready market anxious for an NHL team, eager to fill seats, buy merchandise, and support your team,” Malloy and Bronin wrote to Islanders owners Jon Ledecky, Scott Malkin and Charles Wang (who owns a minority stake). “Your AHL affiliate is in nearby Bridgeport, allowing quick and easy access to your minor-league players, and represents a footing in Connecticut of the Islander franchise.”

I mean, worth a shot and all, but Hartford is pretty much completely inaccessible to the Islanders’ fan base on Long Island (at least until somebody builds that Oyster Bay-Rye Bridge); and if the team’s owners really wanted to up and start over with a new fan base, Quebec and Seattle both have newer arenas and larger populations to offer. Hartford might make a tiny bit of sense as a temporary emergency move if the Islanders had no where else to play, to lure in some Connecticut fans to attach themselves to the team, and then once they’re back in a permanent home they’d travel down to … nope, still no bridge. Okay, this mostly makes sense as a way to put out a press release with “Hartford” and “hockey” in it, and I just fell for it. Damn — well played, Dannel and Luke, well played.

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31 comments on “Hartford offers to host Islanders if they’re left homeless, gets into this headline

    1. They do. Port Jeff to Bridgeport, hard by the Arena at Harbor Yard, where the Sound Tigers play. But then you have to drive to Hartford, and that’s another hour, at least. Ferry tickets with a car aren’t cheap. Buses could be arranged. The train (Metro North) is only convenient on the Grand Central to New Haven run. It’s 2 hours from the Park City to The Insurance Capital and you have to change at Waterbury. It’s single-track from BP to the Brass City, and the run uses the oldest stock on CT’s Metro North system. There’s another Ferry from Orient Point to New London, which might draw the huge hockey fan base in Southold. (LI born and raised Isles fan in exile in the Nutmeg State.)

      1. They’d be somewhat better off just moving to Bridgeport. Though even then, the carrying capacity of those ferries can’t be huge.

    1. Really? Just one team? I’m thinking Bruins to Hartford, New York Rangers to Bridgeport, Red Wings to New Haven.

  1. I think they sincerely want an NHL team back in Hartford, and many Hartford area residents do as well.

    I have a strong feeling that it’d be easier to get an arena modernization done if the Islanders agreed to play in Hartford, even temporarily. Think of it as the OKC model. The local government funded minor upgrades to get the Hornets temporarily, then major upgrades when the Thunder moved from Seattle permanently.

  2. I mentioned the meadowlands arena last week and still can’t understand-if the state’s losing money on the vacant building, why wouldn’t the state offer the Isles a low cost lease with the Isles in charge of maintenance. It’s engineered to host hockey (19k for hockey), has plenty of parking, and an attached entertainment complex (under construction). if the owners need to stay in the NYC metro, why isn’t this being mentioned as a possibility. surely its better than spending 750+ million to build a fourth NYC arena. just cover some nosebleed seats, spend 75 million on upgrades and poof, your very own arena about the same distance from midtown as Barclays is.

  3. Islanders fans don’t live in midtown. Getting from work to New Jersey and back home on a weeknight would take roughly forever.

    1. midtown was just a point of reference. if ledecky and malkin cared about the fans, they would’ve remained in uniondale. they paid a premium for an NYC team and the NYC market. if Barclays (potentially kicked out, among other issues), MSG (too busy), Prudential (too busy), and Nassau (too small, no suites?) are not doable, and they want to stay in NYC, then the options are build a fourth arena or upgrade meadowlands. i understand the many drawbacks, but cant understand how its not even being considered. perhaps its the shady NJ politics that essentially gave prudential a monopoly of northern NJ events.

      1. No way the Devils allow the Islanders to play in the Meadowlands. The repurposing of the arena there is supposed to occur concurrently with the opening of the American Nightmare complex (if that ever happens).

      2. I don’t believe the Islanders need permission to move anywhere in the NYC metropolitan area, including NJ. Isles paid territorial fees to the Rags in 72 and I believe the Devil’s paid those fees to the Isles and Rags in 82. The move to Barclays was clear because it was in their territorial rights.

        And Ledecky and Malkin did not buy the Isles until.tgey had already moved.

          1. You’re correct, scratch meadowlands arena as an option. The Isles are stuck between Brooklyn and a hard place. http://www.newyorkislanderfancentral.com/2013/07/new-york-islanders-own-nhl-territorial.html

  4. The San Diego mayor has also invited the Raiders since the Vegas deal took a turn for the worse. Just seems like a classless move.

  5. Neil, thanks for linking to that Wikipedia page about the proposals to build a bridge or tunnel across Long Island Sound. It’s very interesting.

    I once saw an interview with Robert Moses towards the end of his career in the early 1970s. He was grousing that a bridge hadn’t been built across the Sound yet. He described a bridge there as “indispensable.” But it seems like the people of Long Island and Connecticut have survived OK without it.

    1. I grew up in Stamford and my grandparents lived in Dix Hills. We would have been the only people on the Rye-Oyster Bay bridge!

      great in concept, but would have been terrible in execution and I can’t imagine how crappy the bridge landings would have been. A tunnel would be more appropriate (Moses always preferred bridges because they were a better monument to him), but how would the traffic every rationalize something like that?

  6. I forget if I read about that bridge in The Power Broker or in the Moses 100th birthday package that Newsday did (with much Robert Caro help) in 1988. Either way, it was clear that Moses was resistant to the idea of traffic generation to the end, the jams on his LIE notwithstanding.

    1. Robert Moses was so used to getting his way that he would get furious when he didn’t get his way.

      Robert Caro says that people sometimes say to him “With all the political gridlock these days, wouldn’t it be great if Robert Moses were around today to cut through all the red tape?” And Robert Caro says that he answers simply “No.”

    2. To be fair, the concept of traffic generation has been wildly overblown because it is politically appealing. While new roads do generate some new traffic, particularly over time by impacting where new development happens, initially they mostly relocate existing traffic. Also, also any transportation spending does this, so it is not really a novel feature of roads (as it is often presented).

      It is one of my pet peeves because you will often see on say a lane addition to a major bottleneck “oh that just fills up with cars anyway…there is still traffic”, ignoring that on that stretch commute times fell by say 6 minutes a trip for thousands and thousands of commuters, and that there is a reduction on several neighboring roads as well.

  7. My comment on all things that mention Islanders moving:

    High revenue producing MSG TV contract through 2031

  8. I am an Islander Fan ( lived most of my life less gen a mile from the Nassau Coliseum), now living in Arizona ( although I am gone from there March 1st). My fear is the New Owners sell and move the team to Quebec City. What happens with the John Tavares Contract between now and the Draft will give fans a good indication of the future. If he is signed they stay, if he is traded to say Buffalo or Ottawa look out

    1. The Islanders are very valuable because of their 1/3 share of the NY market. If they moved, the franchise value would tank.

      1. Agreed. Nothing is impossible, but it seems unlikely that the new owners would want to give “all of” NY back to the Rangers and move their team elsewhere (while paying for the privilege via relocation fees in all likelihood) or sell to owners in another city.

        Either option means they paid for a NY franchise but sell something else, eventually.

        It is certainly possible to imagine them sabre rattling about moving elsewhere in order to try and shake a better lease deal free in Brooklyn or Nassau than would otherwise be possible. However, the value of the implied threat is in it’s believability.

        In a situation where Brooklyn’s arena is paying them more than they generate to play there and Nassau’s is owned/controlled by the same owner, I would suggest leverage is going to be hard to generate.

  9. No new arena yet in Seattle. Chris Hansen pretty much has the property to build one south of Unnamed Insurance Company Field (nobody’s paying ME naming rights), although the Seattle City Council won’t vacate one nearby integral street and seem to have instead put their skins in a renovated Unnamed Bank Arena at Seattle Center, which the City owns and may be upgraded but does nothing about the horrible traffic at the site. What’s known as the “Seattle Process” (which involves much talk until a problem either goes away or is handed to the next person) is alive and well with the arena situation.

    I’d put a team in Quebec yesterday. The 18,000-seat arena there would probably sell out for the entire season because people there truly love hockey. All you hear from people in Seattle is how great a rivalry they’d have with Vancouver, as though the Canucks would fill all 40 home dates instead of teams like Columbus, Carolina or Florida. I’m from there and spent years working for local hockey organizations; target demographics aside, Seattle is not all that good a hockey town and I’d put an NHL team in Portland first.

    1. You’d put a team in Quebec, but Bettman and Daly won’t unless it is an absolute last resort–low Canadian Dollar and regional imbalance.

      Seattle not a good hockey town? Potentially a very good one I would say: Jr. Hockey is popular in the cities of Kent and Everett; The Rec leagues for kids and adults in the suburban areas are quite popular. The NHL likes the abundant corporate dollars in Seattle. The key for any expansion franchise or relocated one in this city is to simply win. It is a bandwagon city extraordinaire that will support any team of just about any sport that wins. A Seattle team that gets to the playoffs in this uber front-running city will create a lot of fans and a Seattle team that wins a Stanley Cup will create a lot of fans for life, e.g., Seahawks.

      What’s really standing in the way is a city council and a mayor’s office that wants to rebuild the Key for the NHL and the NBA to keep it profitable and if at all possible avoid the superior SODO Arena location out of consideration for certain political constituencies, i.e., the Port of Seattle, and the Mariners. A rebuilt Key in which the developers may be obligated to use the same roof as a landmark, will not have the footprint space to accommodate the NHL nor the NBA.

      If Paul Allen want to bid on a relocation team, he should get off the schneid and do it—Charlotte’s for sale now and the Coyotes don’t have a home that they don’t lose $$$ in. I’m chill with Portland and would support a relocation there over Quebec, and certainly a relocation to Seattle, when it gets the arena issues resolved, which would be a successful hockey town if the team is a winner.

      1. Don’t see why Paul Allen would be interested in adding a second team in Portland. He’d only be adding competition for the entertainment dollar in what is essentially still a one-horse town (or two, if we’re stretching the definition of “major league” to include MLS).

        1. Well, that’s the rub in Portland. Unless he owned the NHL team as well, no way does Allen want an NHL team in the same building. It’s the same reason that Barry Acklerley made sure the UnnamedBankArena renovations in Seattle were all but hostile to hockey. Nobody in the NBA wants to have to compete with an NHL team for weekend playing dates in the same building.

          As far as Seattle potentially being a good hockey town, I can agree with the “potentially” part to a point. However, the Junior hockey Thunderbirds annually draw among the smallest crowds in the WHL at their rink in Kent (Everett does much better) and whenever people talk about an NHL team in Seattle, it’s almost always couched in terms of a rivalry with Vancouver, as though the Canucks will fill all 40 home dates. Who’s going to want to spend $50+ per ticket to see the Columbus Blue Jackets or Carolina Hurricanes?

          Demographics-wise, Seattle has it all over Quebec and (as the Coyotes have proven and Vegas will replicate) the NHL is all about markets and TV sets, not fan support. That’s what’ll bring Seattle an NHL team, although if the city gets another NBA team as well, the hockey team is toast. But there has to be a suitable NHL arena for any of this to happen and not a shovel has been turned at either site.

  10. Move to Hartford, rename themselves the Whalers, and they can bring back that stupid fisherman uniform. Fish sticks, anyone?

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