Hockey In Brooklyn?

Interesting move by the Islanders, scheduling an exhibition game at the Barclays Center when it opens this fall.

As the article I linked to says, the Islanders have the right to move anywhere on Long Island without having to relocate and since Brooklyn is on Long Island, a move to the Barclays Center is permissible.  The Coliseum (or Mausoleum) is a dump and it doesn’t look like the Islanders are going to trick the voters into raising their own taxes to improve it.

The Nets have already done the heavy lifting in Brooklyn.  They bulldozed part of a neighborhood and got some sweet taxbreaks from the City and State.  Like it or not, and plenty don’t, a basketball arena will be at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush this September.  So, why not lure the Islanders to Brooklyn and at least keep the place busy most nights?

The thing is, would the Islanders go for it?  The Barclays Center is about 30 miles from the Nassau Coliseum geographically, but will the traditional Islanders fan follow the team into Brooklyn?  (I should point out that one of the things the Barclays Center has going for it is the fact that it sits on top of a spur of the LIRR and the subway.) Additionally, the arena will only seat 14,500 for hockey.  That would make it the smallest arena in the league.  But, you would would probably get a much higher average ticket price and the Islanders only average about 12,000 fans a game now.

The big question is, what kind of reception would the Islanders get in Brooklyn?  The Rangers have a pretty solid lock on the five boroughs and the Islanders would have a tough time breaking that.  Would their existing fans follow them into Brooklyn?  October’s exhibition game will be a good place to start finding out some of those answers.

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