Pack the wagon. - Bruce Bennett
The long, torturous saga is over: The NHL's last dynasty has found a new home without having to change its name.
Are you sitting down? You don't have to worry about the Islanders in Kansas City, in Quebec, in Seattle, in Fiji anymore.
In the end of an arena limbo saga that goes back two decades, and which has dragged on particularly painfully for the last 13 years, the New York Islanders have reached a 25-year agreement to play in Brooklyn's new Barclays Center.
Islanders fans have a new arena to call home. Islanders players have a new sense of security to point to. Free agents -- wait, free agents? -- just might find something hip and trendy to consider when mulling offers from the Isles.
A press conference this afternoon featured New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, arena developer Bruce Ratner, Islanders owner Charles Wang, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
Ratner has long sought this day himself, but he gave all the credit to Wang: "I couldn't have found a better partner than Charles Wang," Ratner said. "Wang received several offers to take the team out of New York State. ... Charles Wang is the hero here today."
Said Bettman: "Hello Brooklyn."
Okay, Bettman also said: "To finally be able to say to New York Islanders fans, you don't have to worry about the future, the team is staying local, it's easy to get to ... it's a dream come true."
Islanders GM Garth Snow also briefly took the podium, relieved to not have fans worrying any longer: "With this deal, Islanders fans are assured the continued opportunity to watch our young core grow and develop."
Ownership: Wang said his ownership of the Isles will continue exactly as it is now. Nothing about Bruce Ratner getting a minority stake, which was suggested by NetsDaily earlier.
Lease: It's a 25-year agreement, beginning in 2015-16. "Ironclad," said Wang (i.e. no out-clause).
The Name: The name stays the same. So does the logo.
Capacity: The arena holds 14,500 seats for Islander games. Current Islander season ticket holders will have first rights to purchase season tickets in Brooklyn. Bettman said they are discussing ways to increase capacity above 15,000. "The intimacy of this building is going to make hockey watching a great experience." Note: He didn't sound like that several months ago, but of course that was in leverage mode.
Coliseum Lease: Wang said he's consistently pledged to honor the lease, but "anything can happen."
But what about Nassau? Wang: "You can't unwind the clock ... We are where we are today. We're happy with the decision we made today."
Where will they practice? Wang said they'll still practice at Iceworks in Syosset.
When Did This Come Together? Wang: "All kidding aside, Bruce and I met six or seven years ago discussing how great it would be to have Brooklyn Yards and the Lighthouse [each developed]. He [got his development]. But this process probably took about seven months."
There is more from the press conference. Check the official site for a replay.
For the regulars and lurkers, our thread of commenter humor and celebration (and some mourning) is here.