As the New York Islanders are only five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, their future home is uncertain. Reports started to circulate that the Islanders and the Barclay’s Center are set to renegotiate the lease for the Islanders. Depending on what happens in these meetings, the Islanders could be looking for a new home either for the 2017-2018 season or the 2018-2019 season. According to a report from Bloomberg, the financial projections that were done by Barclay’s ownership determined that they pay the Islanders approximately $53.5 million per year for rights to operate and they feel they could make more money with concerts and other events. So, if the Islanders can not convince Barclay’s ownership that they are a viable asset, what is the future?
Since these reports started to circulate about the Islanders future, the two arenas being talked about are the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut and the New Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island. There have been other locations talked about like having a new arena built by Citi Field in Queens, New York, but that has been talked about for some time. The idea of the Islanders moving to Hartford was brought up after Governor Dannel Malloy and Mayor Luke Bronin sent a joint letter to the Islanders ownership that indicated how they were interested in being the home for the Islanders.
Hartford had a hockey team known as the Whalers until they moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and became the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997. So some would speculate that Hartford is hungry for another team. Personally, I feel that the Islanders moving to Hartford are a long shot after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, made a statement on the situation and it kept things rather vague. He basically insinuated that the Islanders are committed to New York, however, not Barclay’s Center.
On the other hand, I can safely say that if the Islanders move back to the Nassau Coliseum, then Islander fans will be happy again. If the Islanders move to Hartford, then they will more than likely lose a majority of their fan base. However, moving back to Long Island will do them wonders. The New Nassau Coliseum is estimated to hold approximately 17,686, which would not be a problem to sell out. The seating capacity for the XL Center is 16,294. Due to how much of the Islanders fan base lives on Long Island, I don’t see them selling out the XL Center as well as the Coliseum. On the other hand, you can look at the commute factor as being another reason why moving to Hartford would be foolish.
Since a majority of the Islanders fan base lives on Long Island, they can get to the New Nassau Coliseum in 15 minutes to 45 minutes. It depends on where they live on Long Island and if there happens to be traffic. If they move to Hartford, then it would take a minimum of two hours and you have a toll to pay both ways. So any Islander fan who lives on Long Island, especially in Suffolk County, then you probably won’t go up to Hartford.
While the Islanders future is uncertain, the Islanders and the fan base should worry about this season and not let their future become a distraction. They are five points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and there is still enough time left in the season for them to make a push. We will keep you up to date with the latest surrounding the future of the Islanders.