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Start the Clock: Barclays, Islanders officially begin lease agreement negotiations

You’ve got mail!

Chicago Blackhawks v New York Islanders
Twilight begins?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Oh, you thought we were done for the night? We’re never done.

Per a report in Newsday by Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach, Barclays Center has sent notice to the Islanders that the time to discuss the future partnership between the team and the arena is nigh.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which runs the Barclays Center and the renovated Nassau Coliseum, recently notified the Islanders in writing that the window to renegotiate the terms of the license agreement is open, as per the terms of the contract.

The two sides have until Jan. 1, 2018, to renegotiate the terms, according to the summary of the license agreement previously obtained by Newsday. If no new deal is reached, the two sides can stay with the current deal or choose to opt out. Each side would have until Jan. 30, 2018, to deliver an opt-out notice in writing.

It’s unclear at this time whether the proclamation was delivered via emissary on horseback, strapped to a carrier pigeon’s leg or attached to a flaming arrow shot through a tower window at the team’s offices.

Despite the somewhat urgent headline and the presence of the always ominous “opt-out” specter, this news doesn’t really change much of anything. All it does is reset the clock a little closer to a resolution. The Islanders are still, based on a little info from Commissioner Bettman himself, eyeing an arena project at the Belmont Park site. Unfortunately, the final decision on building there isn’t only up to them, and they’ll still need to go through a lengthy and (probably) contentious RFP process with the State of New York before the years of construction can actually begin. How the timing works out for possibly building a brand new arena is obviously going to have a big effect on negotiations.

While this is paperwork, it does mark the beginning of what will be a period of intense scrutiny for both sides as those of us on the outside wonder what does and doesn’t constitute “good faith.”

Although the letter was described by the sources as a procedural step, it’s an important one. According to a lease summary document, the two sides must engage in “good-faith discussions” to renegotiate the financial terms of their agreement in order for either side to opt out of the deal next January.

We have no idea what that means or what each side thinks of the other right now. Barclays honco Brett Yormark has to know by now that the Islanders want to build a place of their own to control as they wish. And Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky have to know that Barclays would like to fork over less money to them per season than their lease has demanded. Barclays also has to know that moving back into the smaller, still cramped, still owned by Nassau County Nassau Coliseum probably isn’t going to fly with the owners or, and especially, with the commissioner.

There’s also the chance both sides simply stick together for a little while longer. As with anything Islanders, there are a million possible scenarios. Bet on the most complicated, disappointing one happening.

But we can now officially begin worrying until (at least) January, 2018.