Rumors are swirling about the Islanders' relationship with Barclays Center, and it's led to a new round of arena speculation. Where will the Isles end up? SNY's Brian Erni and Andy Graziano discuss...
I know you're tired of hearing it, Andy, but it's time to talk arena news again. Give me your take on the situation that is playing out in Brooklyn between Barclays Center and the Islanders. It seems to be clear that the relationship between the franchise and Barclays Center is extremely frayed. Does that jive with what you've heard?
Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Yes, it absolutely does, and that might have been the case since day one, based on the information I was given. The issue with the ice really found its teeth and it has escalated from there. I don't blame new Islanders ownership for looking at every option, because its easy to see the Isles are second fiddle in Brooklyn and will never be the main attraction.
So are you under the impression, like I am, that this most recent Bloomberg report was the result of a Barclays Center-based leak to try to create some leverage in the eventual talks between the Isles and the arena group on how they dissolve this marriage?
I'm not sure of that. As you said excellently in a tweet of this morning, we are all in varying degrees of darkness regarding a situation that is very fluid, with tons of moving parts.
I cant speak for the accuracy of the Bloomberg author or the validity of his source. I'm not sure how much leverage Barclays actually has, considering it's them who installed PVC piping to freeze the ice, and it's them who signed to pay New York 50 million dollars annually guaranteed.
Well, as Newsday's Jim Baumbach pointed out, that $50 million figure does vary, but let's take this to the next step.
Scott Soshnick, the Bloomberg author on this story, said on WFAN Tuesday that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov (who owns the re-developed Coliseum) has offered the Islanders a home back at the Coliseum as either a tenant, or for Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin to be investors in the project and bring the team back that way. Ed Mangano and Anthony Santino (Kate Murray's successor) have reached out to the team to try to bring them back to Nassau County. Do you think this has any legs to it?
The Coliseum talk is very confusing to me. Nassau politicians showed little interest in keeping the Isles on Long Island for decades, they raised taxes anyway even in the wake of the voted down August 2011 referendum, ended up building a lower capacity building, and now all of a sudden want them back?
But I don't think we can deny that the Coliseum is, at least the very least, more viable than I would have considered it even Monday in light of some of the incredible reporting done by Baumbach and Robert Brodsky.
We need to remember the x-factor in the Coliseum situation is the connection to Barclays Center. I'm sure the Barclays people wouldn't exactly be thrilled to see a new arena built in Queens or Belmont that would compete for other entertainment acts with the new Coliseum. The Barclays people could make it attractive enough to retrofit the Coliseum to get it to a viable NHL capacity (15,000 for hockey), keep generating revenue off the team, all while eliminating the custodial headaches that they've encountered the last two seasons.
But I don't see Nassau County being able to offer the perks to the Islanders to make it worth it for the team.
And I know Queens has been brought up, but as a far as a hockey-only building being erected in the New York Metro area that will house a team that has had significant attendance issues for almost two decades, color me very skeptical.
I'm not as skeptical as you are. The attendance issues aren't fair to pin on this fan base. The team was unwatchable for the bulk of two decades, and they still drew 10-to-12,000 fans for Saturday night games. Other teams (like the Panthers) play to a near-empty building with a good team.
I think the most viable destination for this franchise is Queens, right next to Citi Field. Not only do you keep the team based in a New York City borough (which is important to owners that paid a premium for a NYC-based organization), it would be accessible by car for Long Islanders and have access to mass transit. If the Wilpons can find a way to make this a real estate deal that makes sense for them and use their savvy in the industry to clear some of the hurdles around the Iron Triangle, I think it would be very viable.
I agree that would make sense and be an amicable solution to all involved. But I'll stick to my original point that it will be a hard sell given the attendance issues, regardless of whose shoulders bear that brunt. The numbers are what they are and speak volumes when trying to get a building put up that will just house the Islanders.
Again, I don't agree, because the Islanders haven't been playing on equal ground for such a long time. It's impossible to know how this team would draw as a competitive team with a state of the art facility that is suitable for hockey and can draw from both the city and the island.
But whatever our personal feelings, the fact remains that it looks like this partnership is on, let's call it...slushy ice. It certainly seems that both sides want a way out. And for Isles fans, it means more time of maddening uncertainty. But there could be a path here that makes everyone happy. So let's hope that at the end of this, this franchise will get what it has always deserved: their own, brand new arena to call home.