Amid rumors of the New York Islanders fleeing the area, the team announced their moving 20 miles west.
Islanders owner Charles Wang, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Barclays Center majority owner Bruce Ratner and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that the Islanders would be heading to Brooklyn beginning with the 2015-16 season. The lease is for 25 years and the team will remain the New York Islanders.
The Islanders have played at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum since their inception in 1972.
“Not long ago I think its fair to say the idea of a big league sports team coming to Brooklyn was considered little more than a pipe dream. Now, not only does Brooklyn have an NBA team, it also is now about to get an NHL team,” said Bloomberg.
The announcement comes just days after the Nets played their first basketball game in the arena.
Wang said his goal was to remain in Nassau, but “unfortunately we were unable to achieve that dream.”
The Town of Hempstead and the Islanders failed last year to reach an agreement on the Lighthouse Project, which would renovate Nassau Coliseum and develop the area around it. Wang told reporters the team would explore looking for a new home when the lease at Nassau expired in 2015.
“We’ve said this for many years, there comes a point where you need to make a decision because there’s not enough time to build a new arena,” Wang said.
The Islanders consecutively captured four Stanley Cups at the Coliseum from the 1979-1980 to 1982-1983 seasons; but fans and NHL critics in the last few years have called for a new home, or updated one.
“Our goal from the outset was to have the Islanders to play in a local world class facility that possessed the amenities our fans deserve,” said Wang.
The Barclays can currently fit about 14,500 fans for a hockey game though officials said they expect another 1,000 to be added to that number before the Islanders move in. The Nassau Coliseum can hold 16,200 fans.
The 2015 season will serve as a reunion for the Nets and Islanders. When the Islanders broke into the NHL in 1972, they shared Nassau Coliseum for a five year period with the Nets before they left for New Jersey.
Willets Point was rumored in 2010 to be a new destination for the team, and the Wilpon family, owners of the New York Mets, were said to be considering buying the team from Wang, who became a part-owner in 2000. Newsday reported amid the rumors that the potential Wilpon purchase was endorsed by Major League.
Wang was also said around 2009 to entertain the idea of moving the team to Kansas City, which hasn’t had a professional hockey team since 1976.
The move comes in the midst of the second player lockout in less than a decade. The NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and the league failed to come to terms on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by September 15, and pre- and regular-season games were subsequently canceled.
NHLPA officials appealed for talks with league execs today, but Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league would only meet if to work on its proposed 50/50 revenue sharing agreement.