Whatever is going on in the crazy behind-the-scenes multipartite talks over where the New York Islanders will make their future home, it doesn’t sound like massive hockey-friendly renovations to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will be part of it, at least not if you believe arena CEO Brett Yormark:
Barclays Center does not plan to make any “significant design changes” in order to retain the Islanders long-term, according to Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark…
“We always welcome constructive dialogue regarding optimizing the player and fan experience at Barclays Center,” Yormark said. “However, we have no appetite to make any significant design changes to Barclays Center.”
Reading between the lines here — and in other recent comments by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also noted in the above Newsday article — and the situation looks something like this:
- The Islanders owners are moving full steam ahead on building a new arena either on Long Island or maybe in Queens.
- Their Barclays Center landlords aren’t going to be threatened into spending a huge chunk of change on redoing a building that would require hundreds of millions of dollars of work to make it fit hockey properly, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t consider some smaller lease changes to kick some money back the Islanders’ way to make up for the crummy sightlines.
Really, this is now turning into an old-fashioned arena construction battle, with the Belmont Park site the first contestant, and then plenty of Plan Bs if that doesn’t work out. Plan C would be the Islanders staying put in Brooklyn — neither side seems too eager for that to happen, given that both sides are looking to terminate the lease in 2019 — though Plan C could end up looking better to the Isles owners than Plans A or B if those end up costing too much money for construction, land acquisition, and whatever.
If I had to put my money somewhere, it would probably be on an eventual return to a new arena somewhere in Nassau County (maybe with a brief stopover first at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum), since that’s where the team’s fan base is, and it’s easier to find available land there than in New York City. But I wouldn’t put a whole lot of money on any one likelihood, because there are so many variables here it’s impossible to predict, beyond that the now nearly decade-long wandering Islanders saga isn’t likely to get resolved anytime soon.