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Island hopping: Islanders honchos moving hockey team from Brooklyn to outer boro • Brooklyn Paper

Island hopping: Islanders honchos moving hockey team from Brooklyn to outer boro

Glove Save: Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak was ready to snatch a sailing puck during his team’s 3-2 preseason victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Barclays Center.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Local hockey fans are out of puck.

The New York Islanders are skating out of their Barclays Center digs and into a new home outside of Brooklyn, Gov. Cuomo announced at a Wednesday press conference.

The National Hockey League squad submitted a bid to Empire State Development to build an 18,000-seat arena at Belmont Park in the outer borough of Queens earlier this year, and team honchos learned this week that the state-run agency favored their iced arena over a soccer coliseum pitched by the New York City Football Club.

Borough President Adams wasted no time bidding the Islanders bon voyage, saying there is no love lost between the borough and its short-lived hockey squad in a Tuesday statement issued before the move was officially announced.

“There’s only one Brooklyn team for Barclays Center and that’s the Brooklyn Nets,” the beep said. “We wish the Islanders well on their journey to Belmont.”

The Islanders signed a 25-year lease with the Prospect Heights arena in 2012, but the team struggled to acclimate to the venue after it started playing there in 2015. The space is too small to accommodate a regulation-size rink without pulling chairs from around one goal, which spectators in certain perches cannot see because it is blocked by a balcony, leading Business Insider to declare those seats “the worst … in American professional sports.”

The Barclays Center rink also suffers from poor ice conditions, according to Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck, who told the New York Post that “[it’s] the worst ice I’ve ever seen in my nine years [in the league].”

The team drew the lowest home-game attendance of any National Hockey League franchise this season, with an average 11,642 people attending each game — nearly 10,000 spectators less than the top-ranked Chicago Blackhawk’s 21,584 per game, according to an ESPN report.

But fortunately for the Islanders, Barclays Center honchos reportedly hoped to terminate their partnership with the hockey team before its lease expired, too, because they could allegedly make more money with the squad off the ice that on it, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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