2012 — The Year the Islanders Finally Found a New Arena

Kevin Schultz

barclaysoutsideAround the NHL, 2012 will certainly be remembered for the ridiculous, arrogant lockout that is still currently going on. But for Islander fans, this year should be remembered as the year the team finally put a decades long arena issue to bed. Whether you’re thrilled about the team’s impending move to Barclays or not, sad to leave the Coliseum or not, I think we can all agree that it is good to finally have closure. The team and the fanbase needed to move past the decades of political shenanigans, failed projects, and other issues (asbestos! attempted condemning!) that have plagued all involved over the years.

To say that this was a long time coming is an understatement. My favorite quote to cite — and you may have seen this before — is from 1991 when, just before the dawn of the modern American stadium and arena boom, Bill Torrey was citing his team’s facility as a competitive disadvantage:

“If you take the expansion criteria, we wouldn’t qualify right now for expansion,” Torrey said of his team’s less-than-lucrative and outmoded venue. “But I can’t visualize someone moving the team from a New York market to a smaller market.”

But the issues with the Coliseum went further back. It wasn’t even built with the 32 luxury suites that are there now. 15 of them were retro-fitted to the building in 1982 and 17 more were added later in the mid-1980s (this, of course, was part of John Pickett’s foolish fiscal gamble that has plagued the team for nearly three decades).

Now, that can all be behind us. All the bad is over and done with. Kate Murray, John Pickett, John Spano, and a host of other ghosts and villains that haunt the team are rendered irrelevant. Of course, there are also a lot of positives and traditions that we’re stepping away from as well but, as I said at the time, the Barclays is a tough but necessary step forward.

Coming in 2015 — or perhaps sooner with a lease buyout — the Islanders will be in Brooklyn and, hopefully, will have the benefits of new revenue streams, facilities, and the stability necessary to attract new players and retain their own. Right now, they’re still the 27th most valuable team in the league, by Forbes’ annual guess-timation. That should increase and the financial hurdles, and mountains, that the team faced should become smaller. So now, we can finally see what this team is made of when the financial playing surface is a bit more level. Once the lockout is over we can talk about hockey without all of the off-ice distractions. It should be fun.

Have a happy and healthy New Year, Islander Country.