Ratner: Wait and see on Isles to Barclays
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"Charles Wang is a friend," Ratner said of the Islanders owner Thursday at the arena after announcing a plan to fill 2,000 jobs at the new facility with local residents. "I talk to him all the time. We've talked for years and I think the major call is to make sure, first, the team stays in New York State.
"After that we'll see what happens," added Ratner, who is the chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies.
The Islanders declined to comment.
During a meeting with The Associated Press sports editors last week, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coliseum "is not a place that will be housing the Islanders any longer than their lease requires.''
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who attended the event with Ratner Thursday, danced around the idea of whether the Islanders should move from Hempstead Turnpike to the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. The arena holds roughly 14,500 people in its hockey configuration.
"That's up to the Barclays Center to try to attract people," Bloomberg said. "This is an arena that is built so they can have hockey here, and the more teams that are in New York, the better they are. I'm going to the Rangers game Thursday night and I'm taking my youngest daughter."
"I already have my tickets for next season," Bloomberg said. "As a matter of fact, it was pointed out to me where they are going to be. We are going to have a chance to watch basketball in a wonderful arena.
"What strikes you when you look down there is everything is close to the court. It reminds me of the Cyclones' stadium in Coney Island, where you feel like you are right on the field."