With Nassau County voters rejecting a proposal to use $400 million of tax-payer money to build a new hockey arena for the Islanders, the team appears to be headed for a divorce with Long Island. But it seems that they'll have a lot of suitors vying to be their next home—and number one on that list may very well end up being Brooklyn, in the Barclays Center at Atlantic Yards.
According to the Post, the Barclays Center, which will be home to the future Brooklyn Nets, will be fitted with an NHL-sized rink when it opens in September of 2012. In addition, Nets billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov may have an interest in purchasing the Islanders. There's at least one person who is hyped on the idea: “The Islanders belong in Brooklyn. We’ve got lots of hockey fans, and since we’re technically still on Long Island, they can call themselves the Brooklyn Islanders.’ If they come here, I would personally take the first spin on the Zamboni,’” said Borough President Marty Markowitz.
Many news sources are excitedly writing about the possibility of Brooklyn getting two major sports teams in the coming years, but there's at least one major problem with Barclays: it only would be able to hold about 14,500 seats for hockey, which would make it the smallest seating capacity for an NHL team. Then again, despite the Nassau Coliseum seating 16,234, the team only averaged 11,059 fans per game last season, worst in the NHL.
In addition, they'll likely have some competition from Seattle, Suffolk County, Quebec City, and another borough who are in the market for a sports franchise: Queens! Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, told the News that they were hoping to create a sports complex with the Islanders, Mets and U.S. Open. "I really believe this is the time for Queens County to open up their arms," he said.
However, many still believe that Islanders owner Charles Wang will fight to remain on Long Island. "I have lived on Long Island for almost 60 years and it is my home. I am not giving up on Long Island and I hope you won’t either," he wrote in a letter to Islanders fans this morning. As Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Party, put it: "I don't think Charles Wang is a quitter and I don't think he's a sore loser. Where is he going to go that's better?"