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

Brooklyn Paper
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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.
Updated 5:51 pm, July 9, 2018: This story was updated following a press conference by Gov. Cuomo and to include comments from Borough President Adams.
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Reader feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
The Islanders did a terrible job marketing the team to New Yorkers...especially Brooklynites...so this was destined to fail. They should have followed the Nets template.
Dec. 20, 2017, 11:32 am
freddy from slope says:
and nothing of value was lost
Dec. 21, 2017, 8:29 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Moving a team to a new arena is never a magic bullet for them. As long as they are still playing the same way they did before, nothing changes for them. I just see them as getting a new arena as just putting lipstick on a pig, because no matter how much you dress it up, it's still a pig in the end. The same thing that goes for the Islanders also goes for the Nets. Even with a new arena, they still both seem to be doing bad, which shows how little playing in a new arena gives them. What makes this worse is that a neighborhood was lost just for this arena and apartment complex to be built with taxpayer dollars despite being owned privately.
Dec. 23, 2017, 5:02 pm

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