The New York Islanders need a new arena. Brooklyn has a new arena, except it's not quite designed for hockey. But hey, might as well test it out and see how it goes, right? That's the implied logic at play when Charles Wang sends his team to Barclays Center, still under construction in downtown Brooklyn, for a preseason NHL game in October.
The team announced Tuesday that they'll play the New Jersey Devils on October 2 at the new building, and in the process, they made sure they accentuated all the positives of the state-of-the-art arena. Barclay's Center CEO Brett Yormark certainly made his opinion of the Islanders known, too.
"We feel Brooklyn is an untapped hockey market that offers the Islanders with an exciting opportunity to grow its fan base," Yormark said in the press release. "Barclays Center will also afford current Islander fans with great accessibility, as the Long Island Rail Road and nine subway lines will come directly to the arena at the Atlantic Terminal transit hub."
Yormark's building was built for the New Jersey Nets of the NBA, but it's part of his job to make sure it's filled as often as possible throughout the year. An NHL team calling it home goes a long way towards that goal, and the one true weakness of the Nassau Coliseum location at which the Islanders currently reside is the lack of public transportation. There's a reason Yormark mentioned the transit hub at the door step of Barclays Center, and this is likely why.
He's also not shying away from the fact that he'd love the Islanders to call Brooklyn their next home, telling Chris Botta of the New York Times that he'd love Wang and the Islanders to consider Barclay's as an option for relocation. Meanwhile, Nassau County Executive Charles Mangano is brushing aside the idea of the Islanders leaving his county, a threat symbolized in this preseason game in Brooklyn.
Islanders blog Lighthouse Hockey explained this whole situation best on Tuesday:
Charles Wang owns a team but needs an arena -- ideally one that grows his club's revenues. The Nets gang owns an arena and a team but would like more ways to fill that arena for their revenues. Nassau County owns an arena but no team and sort of needs a new arena or, at minimum, a clue about how to develop a property and answer a question they've punted for only five decades or so. Also: politics.
Where everything stands once the music stops, we don't know and won't know for some time. But for now, this is another necessary beat in the song. And it's totally by a band you've never heard of.