Barclays Center to Seat Nearly 16,000 for Hockey

Update, 2:20pm: Owner Charles Wang says there are 400 seats that are “less than desirable” and notes that it is up to Yormark and his team to adjust.

Original Story: This morning, the Islanders took the Long Island Railroad from Garden City to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. A large group made the trip with about 50 players and many members of the media in attendance.

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark has been giving the media a tour of the arena, and told those in attendance that the arena will seat 15,813 fans for hockey. It is not clear if that number includes seats that may have obstructed views.

This estimate has increased from the 14,500 figure that had been discussed since the move to Brooklyn was announced. The new seating total is also only 357 seats short of the 16,170 that the Nassau Coliseum currently holds, although the Coliseum does not have many, if any, obstructed view seats.

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Inept Nassau Pols Would Like the Islanders to Stay

Kevin Schultz

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent throughout the Coliseum development of the last 10-plus years, it has got to be the inability for Nassau County politicians — both at the County level and lower levels, both Democrat and Republican — to put aside partisan politics and attempt to work on any kind of solution that would keep the Islanders in Nassau County.

On Monday, the new Bruce Ratner-led plan for the Coliseum that appears to be the one that will finally lead to shovels in the ground (but to be on the safe side, don’t hold your breath) got approval from some county committees and will now head to a vote in the legislature on September 23rd. After that, the final step will be approval from NIFA.

Now that a revamped Coliseum seems to be headed for the finish line and the Islanders are tucked safely away in a 25-year “iron-clad” lease with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a few Nassau politicians are voicing that they would — pretty please with sugar on top — like to find a way to keep the team in Nassau.

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Snow: Islanders to Take Train to Barclays, Talks MacDonald Contract

Last night, Islanders GM Garth Snow joined Gary Harding on WGBB 1240 AM in New York for an interview. Snow was asked about the Islanders opening training camp in Brooklyn, and the Islanders GM mentioned that the team would take the train to the Barclays center on Thursday:

“We start the first day of main training camp at the Barclays Center, so that’s going to be an exciting day for sure. We’re gonna take the team on the Long Island Railroad and take the train right to Barclays. So it’s going to be a fun day Thursday when we hit the ice for the first time in the Barclays center, but on the flip side we recognize what a special place the Coliseum is…”

The Islanders will host the opening day of training camp at the Barclays Center on Thursday, and then return to the Coliseum and Iceworks for the rest of training camp.

Snow also commented on Andrew MacDonald, who is slated to become a free agent at the end of the season and is likely due a raise:

“I’ve had communication with his agent, we obviously would like to bring Andrew back… We have a player in Andrew who wants to be here and as a lot of these negotiations go, it just comes down to term and money. That will play itself out. It’s still, obviously, early in the process… He’s not a free agent until next summer and we realize how important he is to our team and we’ll try to get something done.”

The Morning Skate: Almost Time for Actual Players Skating on Actual Ice

Kevin Schultz

The Islanders announced that as a precursor to training camp next week, there will be a rookie camp starting Friday at the Coliseum. The kids will wrap up mini-camp on Tuesday, followed by team physicals on Wednesday and full-on training camp starting next Thursday in Brooklyn.


Rookie camp attendees are, but are not limited to: Calvin de Haan, Matt Donovan, Kirill Kabanov, Anders Lee, Scott Mayfield, Brock Nelson, Anders Nilsson, Andrey Pedan, Ryan Pulock, Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Strome, and Johan Sundstrom.

Speaking of Brooklyn, a sort of weird thing happened with the Islanders website yesterday.

The team unveiled the marketing slogan for this season, “A Shift in Power”, and it looked suspiciously like the Brooklyn Nets website. It appears to be using the same font and there’s also a lot of black in the color scheme. This should’t be too surprising, given that the team’s marketing is now being run by the Nets — corporate synergy! — but of course there’s always the worry that the traditional orange and blue will be replaced by black and white. It doesn’t make sense to draw any serious conclusions from this, though.

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The Morning Skate: Prediction Time Begins Again

Kevin Schultz

It’s only August, so most media outlets haven’t yet put together their pre-season predictions for the Islanders. It’s still really early. But as Lighthouse detailed earlier this week, the Hockey News is out in front of everyone (because they have to actually print the darned thing? I’m not sure). They’ve got the Islanders pegged for fifth in the new Atlantic Metropolitan Division, which I guess is some respect as it’s more than the usual “none”. But it also puts them outside of the playoffs, as THN predicts only the top-three will get in to the dance.
  1. Pittsburgh Penguins
  2. New York Rangers
  3. Philadelphia Flyers
  4. Columbus Blue Jackets
  5. New York Islanders
  6. Washington Capitals
  7. Carolina Hurricanes
  8. New Jersey Devils

To my eye, it’s not a bad ranking. The Rangers could have an up year, they are only two years removed from a (regular season) Eastern Conference title, after all. Although how the hell do the Flyers make the playoffs after last season’s train wreck and the fact that they don’t have a goalie (and no, Ray Emery doesn’t count until proven otherwise)?

But this is the debate that makes the summer go by, so share your thoughts in the comments.

Beating this Coliseum thing into the ground… 

Eyes on Isles made what I think is an excellent point about the Coliseum/Barclays point-counterpoint that has gone on lately (special thanks to Ed Mangano, Bruce Ratner, et al. for giving us stuff to talk and write about in August). And they did it in three paragraphs as opposed to the 2,000 words I used yesterday.

Arguments that the Islanders will one day return to Uniondale in all their glory—hypothetically to a sold-out arena complete with luxury boxes that aren’t in the current design specs, a possible on-site public transportation hub that will allow out-of-towners to easily come to games, and a completely redeveloped surrounding area with a mall and a minor-league baseball stadium—are mostly based on a series of “what-ifs.”

Sure, team owner Charles Wang could sell the team. Sure, the seating configuration at Barclays Center isn’t ideal for hockey and may impact the Islanders’ ability to draw fans. And sure, Ratner just won the Coliseum bid, which somehow means he’s automatically bringing the Isles back to Nassau County just as soon as he cuts the ribbon on a supposed shining star of an arena in the not-too-distant future.

But when an argument relies on such a combination of “what-ifs” and “hey, it could happens,” and “no, just hear me outs,” it’s an argument with little evidence to support itself.

The scenarios of the Islanders returning are not impossible, but the ones I’ve seen so far are not backed up with evidence or knowledge of how stadiums are built and how RFPs work.

ALSO: NYI National Hockey League of Nations from Yahoo/BD Gallof

Does Forbes’ Case for the Islanders Staying Make Sense?

Kevin Schultz

One of the arguments that’s cropped up since Bruce Ratner won the RFP on the Coliseum has been whether or not this paves the way for the Islanders to stay in Nassau County somehow, someway.

Islanders Brooklyn HockeyRatner and Wang are business partners in Brooklyn, Mangano brought in Ratner to advise him on the Coliseum and ultimately chose him to re-imagine it. Surely, there’s got to be a way for all three to parlay this into the Islanders staying, right?

Well, not so fast. On Twitter, Chris Botta says the chances of that happening were long gone adding that Ratner didn’t lure the Islanders to Brooklyn only to let them go back to the suburbs away from the urban transportation hubs. Newsday’s Randi Marshall even talked to Ratner himself, who said that the Islanders will not move back to Nassau citing the remodeled venue as too small.

But there are still folks who believe the Islanders now have a path back. One of them is Tom Van Riper from Forbes, a place that should know a thing or two about business. Van Riper wrote on Friday that now that Ratner’s got the Coliseum, surely there’s a way to make the Islanders stick. That piece was given further credence — without additional substance mind you — by being reblogged at Puck Daddy.

So, can the Islanders stay at the Coliseum now that Ratner’s won the bid and seems to have a good relationship with both the County Executive Ed Mangano (up for reelection this year) and Islanders owner Charles Wang?

To believe that, we would have to overlook a few key points and also the basic logic of sports business in 2013.

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The Morning Skate: Coliseum Leftovers

Kevin Schultz

Last week, the big news was obviously Bruce Ratner’s group winning the RFP to redevelop the Coliseum. In Newsday, Randi Marshall detailed how the deal got done, which included intensive meetings from both sides.

Marshall writes that lawyers hired by the county met with each group — MSG and Forest City — twice a week for the last month for up to 10-hours per day trying to get the best deal. It was basically negotiations between the three sides, with the County’s lawyers trying to extract everything they could:

County officials said they tried to focus both finalists in the final weeks on limiting the county’s expenses, particularly for utilities and maintenance, taking ownership and control of the arena as early as possible, and giving the county revenue even before a newly renovated arena opened.

They also attempted to suggest to both parties that they rethink decisions that were not as favorable to the county, Gowell said. Gowell, for instance, encouraged both finalists to consider committing to additional revenue payments before and during construction. Ratner agreed, while MSG ultimately did not, Gowell noted.

Forest City’s final deal did end with the company assuming all utility costs for the arena, which is a reduction in County expenses by a couple million.

One of the things I found very interesting about the deal was that, even despite the delays in announcing the winner, the decision was never leaked. Apparently even Bruce Ratner himself didn’t know until minutes before the press conference:

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