Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner said he’s “hoping” that the New York Islanders will move to the Barclays Center once the struggling team’s lease at the Nassau Coliseum expires in 2015 — a reversal of his longtime claim that the Prospect Heights arena would be too small to host pro hockey games.
“I would hope that’s possible,” Ratner said in an appearance on Bloomberg Television. “I certainly think there’s a chance.”
The under-construction $1-billion arena for the Brooklyn-bound Nets was floated as a possible home for the struggling Islanders after suburban voters rejected a new sports complex in August.
A deal with the National Hockey League requires the team to remain on Long Island, which includes Brooklyn at its western tip, making the Barclays Center an attractive option.
Ratner declined a request to provide more details on his vision.
But his flip-flop was the strongest indication yet that the developer is considering pro hockey for the Barclays Center, which will start hosting college basketball games and Disney on Ice next September in the lead-up to the Nets inaugural season.
Hockey was originally intended as one use for the Frank Gehry-designed arena, but plans for an ice rink were canceled after Gehry was fired two years ago to cut costs.
As currently designed, the 18,000-seat basketball arena could only fit 14,500 spectators when configured for pro hockey.
That would make it the smallest arena in the National Hockey League, though it would still accommodate an Islanders team that averaged just 11,000 fans per game last season.
Arena-area residents were not that excited that the Barclays Center would host more pro games.
“It is not a neighborhood geared towards massive amounts of ill-behaved pro sports fans,” said Patti Hagan, a longtime foe.