Five years after the announcement of a 25-year lease at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, the New York Islanders are already returning home—well, not quite home, but at least back out of New York City and onto the land mass* where they began (Correction: They never left the land mass). Reports say that a news conference scheduled for Wednesday morning at Long Island’s Belmont Park will confirm that the location of the famous racetrack will also become the site of a new hockey arena for the Islanders. This means that the team’s proposal won out over a competing bid from the New York City MLS team.
The Islanders taking the built-in option to ditch their lease before February 2018—in the middle of only their third season in Brooklyn—comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. Barclays Center was not built for hockey, a fact that became immediately apparent once the Islanders started playing some preseason games there.
Obviously, that view is not ideal for fans. Here’s more from a 2014 New York Times article:
John and Nizzette Conlon and their two sons, all Islanders fans from St. James, N.Y., walked to their seats in Section 3 at the southwest end of Barclays Center and took one flabbergasted look.
“What is this?” Nizzette said.
John just laughed.
Their seats for Friday night’s preseason game against the Devils, which the Islanders won, 3-2, in a shootout, were suspended right above one end of the rink, only 20 feet up, blocking their view of the ice directly below them. In fact, that entire section of the rink — from the face-off dots to the end boards — was blocked from the fans’ sight.
Aside from the unpleasant experience of watching games in the actual arena, traveling to downtown Brooklyn was a pain for many longtime Islanders fans, and those difficulties showed up in the team’s poor ticket sales. The new arena will be significantly tougher to get to for Islanders fans that live in Manhattan or Brooklyn. But for fans used to attending games at the Islanders’ original home at Nassau Coliseum, the Belmont Park venue will be much more convenient.
Better luck next time, Quebec.