Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark declined to discuss the possibility of the Islanders leaving the arena in Brooklyn after next season, when the team can exercise an opt-out clause in the lease deal. In a sitdown with reporters before the Islanders’ preseason home opener, Yormark wanted to focus on the improvements the arena has made to make Isles fans feel more at home in the team’s second season there.
“I can’t speak to that,” Yormark said when asked whether the Islanders have a future in Brooklyn. “All I can speak to is our team at Barclays Center will do everything we can to provide the players and the fans a first-class experience. That’s all we’re focused on. I don’t have a crystal ball, I can’t tell you what the future holds. I can tell you adamantly that we’re committed to providing a great season for everyone involved, for all the key stakeholders. That’s my position on it.”
Reports surfaced in July that Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, the team’s new majority owners, were searching for a new home for the Islanders after only one season at Barclays Center. Belmont Park and the Citi Field area were cited as possibilities.
Last month, Newsday reported that the 25-year lease deal between the Islanders and Barclays Center had an opt-out clause after the third year. Ledecky and Malkin had several meetings with Yormark this summer to try and improve the player and fan accommodations in the building, which was not built for hockey and presented some challenges to the fan base and the players during the first season.
Barclays Center has hired a full-time ice engineer, according to building general manager Steve Rosebrook, and the dehumidification system that was installed before last spring’s playoffs has been put in again last week. The players had numerous complaints about the ice during the season but most said it was the best it had been during the playoffs.
Yormark said the Long Island Rail Road has added trains for fans leaving games and that the building’s entire staff is being trained this week to help smooth over any rough edges from last season.
Yormark also said Barclays has seen an uptick in season-ticket sales, primarily from within the five boroughs. He cited John Tavares’ double-overtime goal to defeat the Panthers in the opening round of last year’s playoffs as “one of the signature moments in Barclays Center history.”
“The playoffs represented a moment where we all said hockey has arrived in Brooklyn,” Yormark said. “I think we took that momentum into the offseason.”