LOS ANGELES — The Islanders’ owners are “committed” to New York but are keeping their options open with regard to Barclays Center, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during his news conference during the league’s All-Star Weekend.
“They’re committed to the franchise, they’re committed to New York and the great fan base that has followed the Islanders,” Bettman said, referring to Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, who are in their first season as principal owners after having completed the sale from Charles Wang.
Barclays Center has drawn mixed reviews from Long Island fans regarding the difficulty of getting to Brooklyn and the presence of seats that do not offer a full view of the rink. The building also has been criticized by players because of the quality of the ice in an arena that was not designed with hockey in mind.
Newsday has reported that the owners have spoken about a new arena, either near Citi Field or Belmont racetrack. Without elaborating or giving specifics, Bettman basically confirmed that.
“There are some issues about playing in Barclays, it may be fundamental to the ice system, and that’s not something that can be fixed in the short term,” the commissioner said. “I think as is prudent, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky are reviewing the situation and looking very seriously at what their options are.”
Newsday reported in September that the Islanders could leave Barclays Center after their third or fourth season in Brooklyn by triggering an opt-out clause in the license agreement.
Documents obtained by Newsday detailed the contractual differences between the Islanders and Brooklyn Nets, who also play home games at Barclays Center. The Nets get “priority” over the Islanders regarding scheduling home games, and they also have the ability to play as many as two home games at an alternate site.
The Islanders are required to play all of their home games at Barclays Center. The 2013 lease between Nassau County and Bruce Ratner to renovate Nassau Coliseum included a clause that calls for the Islanders to play six games each season at their former home. If those games aren’t played, Ratner’s Nassau Events Center will owe the county an additional $1 million in rent.
The summary outlines the process involved in triggering the opt-out. After the Islanders finish this season, their second in Brooklyn, the two sides have until Jan. 1, 2018, to renegotiate the terms of the current deal. If no new deal is reached, the two sides can stay with the current deal or choose to opt out. Each side would have until Jan. 30, 2018, to deliver an opt-out notice in writing.
If the Islanders decide to opt out, the team can choose to leave at the end of either its third or fourth season. If Barclays triggers the opt-out, the Islanders would have to leave after the fourth season.
With Jim Baumbach