Brett Yormark walked and talked to fans at Barclays Center Sunday night during the Islanders’ regular-season home opener, then checked the social media banter. And the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment got an overall positive vibe about the start of the team’s second season in the post-Coliseum era.
“A little bit different tone than last year,” Yormark told Newsday Tuesday night at a Guastavino’s in Manhattan, where he was honored at the T.J. Martell Foundation Annual New York Honors Gala, benefiting cancer research.
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Jon Ledecky was at the event to support him. The Islanders’ new co-owner had received the same vibe. After Yormark met with Ledecky and the other majority owner, Scott Malkin, and convened focus groups of season-ticket holders, the arena tried to address concerns from last season and upgrade the game-day/night experience. Ledecky said he’s “very happy” with the results.
“I think fans have already talked to us after the opening day that they feel like it’s our home now,” Ledecky said.
“ . . . Just the whole feel of the building in our second season — Barclays has worked hard to make our fans feel like it’s their home. And I really appreciate that.”
There’s more Islanders imagery and branding. There’s more merchandise in the team store. More LIRR trains were added for the postgame commute.
There’s also now a VIP room for the players’ wives and a suite for them during games.
Then there’s the ice, which drew bad reviews last regular season.
“We’ve brought on board an ice technician to really manage the ice,” Yormark said. “I think we’re getting really good marks from the players.”
Plus, 30 games will now be heard over WFAN.
Still, the Islanders can potentially opt out after season three and both sides can potentially opt out after season four.
“I don’t look at dates; I don’t look at contracts,” Yormark said. “I look at progress. Are we making progress week to week? And when I look at where we started last year and where we ended last year and where we’re starting this year, we’re making considerable progress.”
There were reports earlier this year of an Islanders’ interest in possibly moving to a new arena at Belmont Park or near Citi Field.
Asked about opting out, Ledecky said, “We’re in a great relationship with Barclays now. No one has a crystal ball about the future. We’re moving forward in our relationship with them in a very positive framework.”