New York Islanders Announce Move to Barclays Center

After years of speculation and uncertainty, the New York Islanders have found a new home. The NHL franchise today announced a 25-year deal with the Barclays Center, beginning with the 2015-16 season, that will move the team from Uniondale, NY, to Brooklyn.

The Islanders’ lease with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is set to expire in 2015. Because owner Charles Wang had been unable to secure a deal with Nassau County to build a new arena, the Islanders faced the possibility of leaving Long Island — and their iconic moniker — behind. Islanders fans can breathe a sigh of relief: the team name, synonymous with success in the early 1980s, will remain the same.

“It was our goal from day one to keep the Islanders in the local New York area,” said Wang in a press release. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to play in Barclays Center, a first-class arena. This has been a long journey for the Islanders family, starting with our loyal fans, sponsors, and employees. I want to personally thank them for their patience, loyalty, and support. I am excited about today’s announcement, and I am looking forward to a long and successful future in Brooklyn.”

Since the venue’s initial planning stages, rumors have circulated that Barclays Center would one day host an NHL tenant. Early plans included an ice rink in the arena’s design. However, these were scrapped and the arena redesigned due to budget constraints. A year ago, Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark indicated that the venue would have an ice rink installed and would be able to support professional hockey.

Speculation intensified earlier this year with the announcement that the Islanders were scheduled to play a preseason game at Barclays Center, a game that was eventually canceled as a result of the NHL lockout. The venue will get a taste of professional hockey prior to the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn: the KHL will play two regular-season games there in January.

According to a source at the Barclays Center, adjustments will need to be made to the broadcast and AV systems.  Adjustment plans are yet to be determined.

With seating capacity of more than 17,000 for basketball, Barclays Center will hold 14,500 seats in a horseshoe configuration for hockey. Although this would be the smallest seating capacity for an NHL team (currently, the smallest is at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg), the NHL has said that it has no minimum seating requirement.

“We are delighted to welcome the Islanders to Brooklyn and to bring NHL hockey to the borough for the first time,” said Barclays Center majority owner and developer Bruce Ratner. “Eleven subway lines and the Long Island Rail Road come directly to Barclays Center at Atlantic Terminal, offering great accessibility for current and future Islander fans. I want to thank Charles for his determination in keeping the team in New York and for having the vision to bring his club to Brooklyn.”

New York Islanders games air on MSG+, a regional sports network owned by Madison Square Garden, a direct regional competitor of Barclays Center.

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