Seattle becoming the home of the NHL’s 32nd franchise took another big step forward with the league putting the vote up to the board of governors in December. The board has never turned down an expansion bid and it’s almost certain that Seattle will have the NHL in 2020. On this episode we not only talk about why this is big for Seattle, but is huge for the NHL’s expansion plan and why this could be just the beginning of new NHL franchises.
Is their hope for the NHL in Hartford on the horizon? One of the biggest obstacles preventing a team playing in Connecticut’s capital is the lack of a state of the art arena, however that soon may no longer be a problem.
The Hartford Courant has reported that Oak Street Real Estate Capital, a Chicago firm, will submit a proposal to purchase and renovate the city’s arena later this month. The XL Center, formerly the Hartford Civic Center, is one of the oldest facilities in the country and needs a major overhaul. Currently, the arena hosts concerts is home to UConn Basketball, UConn Ice Hockey, and the AHL’s Hartford WolfPack.
The offer to the city of Hartford did outline the plan to renovate the building and planned to put in over $250 Million with the intention of making it a state of the art facility. The state has proposed two options in recent years, one of which was a $250 Million dollar proposal to bring the current property up to a state of the art facility through renovation.The other, and more expensive option, was to completely tear down the existing structure and build a new arena which would have cost $500 Million.
The outline of the deal would be $50 Million upfront from the group to the state, but the state would pay 7.5% of the renovation costs and would be subject to annual increases of two percent. This would mean at the minimum the state would invest roughly $19 Million for the reconstruction. Just to tear down the existing structure would cost $40 Million
The following is a statement from the Oak Street Group on their interest in acquiring the XL Center.
“Our interest in the XL Center stems from our larger goal of revitalizing the Hartford area. We believe that the transformation of the aging arena into a state-of-the art sports and entertainment venue can be the focal point of the city’s redevelopment and spur economic growth.”
Included in this statement, Oak Street it is ready to close on the acquisition of the building in the coming month and would send its proposal to the state for the upcoming request for proposals.
If the XL Center is upgraded to a state of the art facility it could put the city of Hartford in the discussion for a potential NHL team. The good news for hockey fans in Hartford is there are two encouraging trends in the National Hockey League that could eventually help the city land a franchise.
The first is the league’s expansion plan. The league is already looking to add a 32nd franchise in Seattle and after a successful ticket drive, Seattle is inching closer to professional hockey. After the success of hockey in Las Vegas due to a new expansion draft that has given the Golden Knights the quality talent to earn a sweep in the first round the NHL playoffs. With the new expansion plan working it is possible that Hartford could land an expansion franchise rather than relocating an existing team.
The second factor is that Seattle is setting a new arena precedent for attracting an NHL franchise. It was believed that the only way to attract an NHL franchise with a brand new arena. However, if Seattle is awarded an official franchise, it proves that a city can update a pre-existing arena to a modern standard rather than building a new arena. In Seattle, the plan is to extensively remodel Key Arena into a state of the art facility. If the NHL does put a team in Seattle for the 2020 season, it shows that they are willing to put a team in a state of the art facility even if it is not a brand new facility.
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It wasn’t if, but when the New York Islanders realized their crucial mistake of moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Not even one full season in Brooklyn, it has been reported that both the Islanders and the Barclays Center are looking for a way out of the team’s 25 year lease with the building. To say that the move to Brooklyn has been to a disaster is a huge understatement.
The Islanders were enticed by the vixen that was the Barclays Center. A sparkling arena in Brooklyn that would make the decaying Nassau Coliseum a bad memory when older Islander fans would tell younger generations that the team used to play in a dump. Unfortunately, New York fell for the perfect partner before the first date. Had the team and Barclays Center actually really looked into their future relationship, their status wouldn’t currently read: it’s complicated.
It looked good on paper. A sparkling new arena not too far from Nassau Coliseum that had
been established a new new center for entertainment in New York City. Then, the truth comes out. The arena has the worst sight lines in hockey with numerous obstructed views, and the smallest seating capacity in the NHL. The real kicker is that the Barclays Center limits the Islanders because under the agreement the arena collects revenue from ticket sales, advertising, and promotions. That limits the amount of money the team can make in the building and could stunt the franchises growth because of the lack of income.
The Barclays Center has also been hampered by the Islanders becoming a permanent tenant. Since they have to book the Islanders home games, the arena is limited in the concerts that can come to Brooklyn. Given the the primary purpose for the arena’s construction was for concerts and basketball, the Islanders are hurting the prospective revenue that could be made off of concerts.
It’s been a disaster from day one. The way Islander fans were ignored by the monopolized home of the Nets, the small capacity, axing of long standing traditions, horrible sight lines, exorbitantly high ticket prices, and a move
that should have been a temporary solution at best, rather then a permanent home. Despite owning one of the best home records in the NHL, the attendance for the Islanders is 28th in the league. While part of that can be partially attributed to the smaller arena, the arena’s location, and ticket prices are what have impacted this standing the most.
So what now? There’s no promising solution for the Islanders on the horizon. While Nassau Coliseum is being renovated, the capacity will be 13,000, well below the the NHL minimum. There could be a renegotiation between both sides to work out a new lease, but this would be more of a patch then a long-term solution.
New owner Jonathan Ledecky has wanted to move the team to Queens in the past, but that would be an expensive proposition considering the Barclays Center cost a Billion dollars to build and the new Islanders arena would directly have to compete with it.
Either way both party’s have a terrible situation with no great exit strategy. In a perfect world the Islanders could build a new arena and leave, but given the current financial standing of the club, and the cost of building an arena in the New York area make that an almost impossible scenario. As long as the Islanders are in Brooklyn, an arena that’s too small and isn’t built for NHL hockey, it’s going to be a trying relationship at the Barclays Center.
We will keep you posted as this story continues to develop.
In the fall of 2015 the New York Islanders will move from Nassau to Brooklyn in what will be a new chapter in New York sports. While the team finally gets the new arena the franchise has coveted for almost two decades, the Islanders may regret making the jump to Brooklyn. In the grand scheme of things it is easy to see why the Islanders are moving. The Nassau Coliseum is a dump that has been long considered the worst venue in the NHL and Long Island hasn’t exactly shown the initiative or resolve to get a new arena on the Island. Given the current circumstances it’s easy to see why the Islanders needed a new home. Problem is, they may have picked the wrong one.
Hockey at the Barclays Center. sounds like a good idea except for the arena logistics. For example, the layout can cause for some problems. This is because Barclay’s Center was built for basketball and concerts, not hockey. As seen here the scoreboard for the hockey games doesn’t hang outer center ice, but over a blue line. While the arena features a hockey layout, this was only supposed to be for special games, not an entire season. The whole purpose of the Barclay’s Center was to deter any hockey teams from coming in. I understand that they loved how new and modern the arena is, but when this nostalgia of a new arena wears off after a few years and then the Islanders will say “this was a mistake”. At Barclay’s, the rink is not centered creating unusual hockey sight lines and certain blind spots to the action. Sure the idea of the Islanders in a new arena is great, but once that fad wears off people will realize that the Islanders in the Barclay’s Arena was a mistake.
- West End:
A unique feature about the Islanders at the Barclay’s center is that there are no seats behind the net in the west end of the arena. You heard right with the configuration, there will be just a wall behind the west goal with seats above the glass. Some of the best seats in hockey are right behind the goaltender and the Islanders are ok with half these seats gone? One of the biggest
arguments about the Islanders getting a new arena was about the seating capacity. At 16,170, the Nassau Coliseum is the second smallest arena in tens of capacity in the league. At Barclays the capacity is 15,800 for hockey, and while they have said that more seats will be added for Islanders games, it still makes Barclays the smallest hockey arena in the NHL. On top of that, there are terrible sight lines from this configuration such as blind spots from the upper deck in the west end. I can se Islander fans really happy about commenting to Brooklyn and paying for ridiculous ticket prices for seats with blind spots.
- Bye Bye Tailgating
Sure the Barclays Center is beautiful, but it does have its own problems. Case in point parking. Why is this important? Without parking there is no tailgating, which is an Islanders’ fan staple. Sure tailgating probably originated because Islander fans wanted to spend as little time as possible inside the Nassau Coliseum, but it is who they are. Tailgating brings fans together in a community linked by sausages and burgers. Sure it’s more of a football thing, but tailgating and hockey are a terrific combination. However, Brooklyn will put an end to this with almost no parking and no large gathering place for tailgating. The closest Islander fans will get to tailgating stating in 2015 is cramming onto the train to Brooklyn with other Islanders fan.
- It’s not Long Island!
This is the most important aspect of why the Islanders moving to Brooklyn will be a disaster. They are Long Island’s team, not a New York City team. The reason this team was so beloved on Long Island is because it was Long Island’s own team that became one of the greatest dynasties in sports. Now those championships and history are being moved away from the fan base that loves this team so much. It be like the Packers moving to Milwaukee, it just doesn’t make sense. You take the Islanders of the Island, you lose the essence of what the team means to the people of Long Island. They’re not a New York team so why should they now play in the New York market in Brooklyn?
- Now your telling a fan base that’s been loyal through thick and thin, sorry if you still want to watch us play you have to commute to Brooklyn. Sure this isn’t the worst case scenario which would have been the team moving completely away from the New York area, but it has moved the Islanders away from the community that helped make them a proud NHL franchise. While Brooklyn may have all the bells and whistles, once the thrill of a new arena wears off coupled with terrible hockey sight lines, will make this move a disaster for the Islanders. Sure the team will be the same, but the soul of the Islanders will be lost once they move in 2015.