We already know that the first game to be played at the Barclays Center will not be basketball but hockey, as the New York Islanders are playing an exhibition game there. There has been a lot of talk about the team moving there for good, after its lease runs out at the Nassau Coliseum in 2015.
This has been seen by some as a bargaining move for team management to get a new arena approved, but it could become a reality as soon as next season. A state investigation has found asbestos at the coliseum, according to The Brooklyn Paper, and if it’s not cleaned up before next season starts, the Islanders will be looking to leave.
If a cleanup of the Nassau Coliseum stretches beyond the start of the hockey season this fall — or if the asbestos problem forces county officials to close the arena — the Islanders would be forced to find a new home, and the Barclays Center is an easy option. A deal with the National Hockey League requires the Islanders play on Long Island, which, surprisingly to some, includes Brooklyn at its western tip.
An asbestos-abetted move to Brooklyn is all but inevitable according to sports talking heads including Mike Francesa.
The Paper points out that the move would keep the team from taking on debt to build a new arena, though this would also be the smallest in the league, at 14,500 seats. That said, the Islanders, who have not had a winning season in the past five, only average about 11,000 fans a game.
Meanwhile, Mikhail Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire playboy who is owner of the Nets and a minority partner in Atlantic Yards with Bruce Ratner, told the Daily News at a tour of the arena yesterday that another team could also be in the works. “Our arena, we reached agreement with National Hockey League,” he said. “Now we can play ice hockey here. But in the time being we have no practical plan with any other team. But we will see in the future.”
As for the question of whether or not he might buy a place in Brooklyn, it appears competition from his countrymen is making him wary of buying something anywhere in the city.
Mr. Proky, in your visits what do you think of Brooklyn? So I think I read the article in the Daily News that said that every 9-out-of-10 Brooklynites quite happy for the arena for the team moving. And I feel that Brooklyn deserves a professional team since the time the Dodgers left in 1957. And of course I know there is some kind of skeptical criticism, and of course it’s impossible to make happy just everyone, but I hope as soon as we start our season, because it’s not only basketball, it’s a great cultural events to tennis and another opportunity to make this like center, the heart of Brooklyn. I think even those who are skeptical now will join us. So we’ll do our best, because for us the spirit of community is very important.
You planning to buy a place in Brooklyn? You know it’s just a great question for me, because the time being a rich Russian driving up the prices, so it’s not the best time to buy.