The New York Islanders aren’t expected to call Brooklyn their official home until the start of the 2015-16 season, when their lease with the outdated Nassau Coliseum expires. However, September 12 served as a homecoming of sorts for the team.
Players and ownership gathered outside of Barclays Center for a photo shoot underneath its signature Oculus, followed by an open practice and media event. It also served as an opportunity for real estate developer and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner and Barclays Center/Nets CEO Brett Yormark to promote the very first National Hockey League game played in Brooklyn, an exhibition game between the Isles and the New Jersey Devils.
While Ratner and Yormark showed off the team’s future state-of-the-art amenities (including its first ranked champagne bar and 100 luxury suites), they also attempted to put to rest any concerns regarding an arena not built with hockey in mind.
Because of the construction, seating levels will have to be removed in order to accommodate the size of the rink during games. This will limit the capacity to 15,813, which ranks as one of the lowest in the league. Yormark claims that it will be a perfect place for the Isles.
“It was modeled for basketball and concerts, but we want this to be a multipurpose venue and I think it does really, really well for hockey.” Yormark said.
In addition, the pair reassured fans that what this new home may lose in seating capacity, it gains in intimacy, allowing fans to be closer to the action than in most arenas.
Whatever obstacles this franchise faces, it has reasons to be optimistic. Although the team was ranked last in attendance last season, it reached the postseason for the first time since 2007 and it will soon be moving to a city that has already embraced the once unpopular Nets of the NBA.
“I’m smiling from ear to ear,” Ratner gleamed. “It is incredible to watch and see. It’s a pretty special moment. We have an NHL team here in Brooklyn. We kept them in the state of New York.”
In an attempt to reassure the loyal fan base that resides on Long Island, players and ownership took the Long Island Railroad to the Barclays Center. “It only took 44 minutes to get here (from Garden City Station). So please take mass transit,” Ratner encouraged.
The exhibition game between the Islanders and Devils is September 21. Tickets start at $14.50.