Less than a full season in, and the New York Islanders reportedly already want out of Brooklyn.
According to the New York Post, the hockey team is looking for ways to get out of its lease with Barclays Center — and the feeling is mutual. As per the report published Friday, both sides are “secretly exploring ways to cut ties or modify the existing terms of their lease.”
Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center, denied the report.
“We are enjoying the first year of hockey in Brooklyn,” he told The Post. “We are looking forward to a heated playoff run and a long future and partnership with the Islanders.”
The Islanders did not comment.
The 25-year deal between the Islanders and Barclays Center, which is also home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, was formed in 2012 by owner Charles Wang after voters in Nassau County rejected a referendum to help fund a new arena on Long Island.
According to a source in The Post, there is an out clause in the contract that comes into play in the fourth season, and incoming majority owner Jonathan Ledecky (who leads investors that will replace Wang July 1) is more than aware of complaints streaming in from fans and could be tempted to make a move. Those complaints include 1,500 obstructed-view seats, higher ticket prices and fewer team traditions, among others.
Under the current lease, the Islanders — who were losing up to up to $20 million at Nassau Coliseum — gave up business control in exchange for an annual average lump sum of $53.5 million from Barclays, with the rink earning revenue from sponsorships and ticket and suite sales.
“The Islander deal was forced from the start because the club was hemorrhaging so much money playing on Long Island … and had to bail,” a source told The Post. “Now you’re left with this weird situation where Barclays’ folks pay the Islanders to play there — but aren’t getting the bang for the buck they desired, not to mention all the crap they’re getting from Islander fans who are finding every little fault they can with being in Brooklyn.”
The Islanders currently rank 28th in league attendance, bringing in an average of 13,424 fans per game—down from the 15,334 the club brought in last season at Nassau. The Barclays Center has a 15,795-seat capacity for NHL games.
So, what are the possible solutions? If the team is to be moved, chances are high that a new rink would need to be built, or the two sides could renegotiate the current contract, says the report. Current renovations to Nassau Coliseum will see seating trimmed to 13,000, making it too small to host NHL hockey.