The New York Islanders continue to look for a new place to play that is built for hockey and likely closer to Long Island than their imperfect home in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
That rather accepted understanding was affirmed again by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during his latest appearance on Bloomberg Radio’s “Business of Sports” with Scott Soshnick and Michael Barr.
When asked about the Islanders’ future home rink, Bettman started off with the traditional digs at the “past its due date” Nassau Coliseum and its aging ice plant. Then to Barclays:
“It was great that they had an opportunity to go to Barclays, which is a state-of-the-art facility, and would give fans a much better experience. Having said that, a bit harder to get to — harder to get to if live on Long Island in Nassau or Suffolk County. The building wasn’t built for hockey, it was built for basketball, and that meant obstructed seats, things weren’t centered, it raised some issues.”
Bettman then reaffirmed what we’ve been hearing over the last year about current Islanders ownership:
“Scott Malkin is committed to New York...he’s looking at all of the options available to the Islanders, including building a building perhaps significantly closer to people on Long Island and Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and making it hockey-centric, hockey-friendly, to give the fans and the team the right resources and right experiences. So he’s committed to that effort and he’s looking at his options.”
The hosts then brought up that the Barclays lease was billed as a 25-year “ironclad” arrangement. So what happened?
“I don’t think at the time anyone thought it was temporary. Who knows what may unfold? Maybe it will turn out not to be temporary. Looking at your options is the responsible thing when you have a major league team like the Islanders are, so they’re going to explore. Maybe they want to change the configuration and rebuild Barclays — I don't think that's the case. But I think Malkin is focused on what he should, which is what is the best long-term option for the Islanders, wherever that may be."
It’s a half-hour segment, where they covered many NHL business topics after Bettman’s recent annual “state of the league” address, including the NHL’s decision not to go to the 2018 Olympics.
Listen to the full interview here [mp3]. The Islanders talk begins around the 25:00 mark.
Update: Yeah, about that whole, “change the configuration and rebuild Barclays” thing... CEO Brett Yormark says that will not indeed be the case.
“We always welcome constructive dialogue regarding optimizing the player and fan experience at Barclays Center,” Yormark said. “However, we have no appetite to make any significant design changes to Barclays Center.”