RALEIGH, N.C. — The Islanders announced Tuesday they will play a preseason game at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Oct. 2. The game against the Devils will be the first hockey game held at the new arena, which will be home to the Nets starting next season.
Islanders owner Charles Wang, who has been seeking a new arena to replace Nassau Coliseum before the team’s lease expires after the 2014-15 season, declined to comment on the announcement. Wang has repeatedly said he wants to keep the Islanders on Long Island but will not play in the Coliseum beyond 2015.
“Having the Islanders play a game here makes a lot of sense, with the Long Island Rail Road at the foot of our building,” Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. “It’s a great opportunity for Islanders fans to come to Brooklyn, for hockey fans already here and for the Islanders to see what playing in a state-of-the-art venue feels like.”
In September 2009, the Islanders played a preseason game in Kansas City, which has been trying to lure a professional sports team since it built the 18,000-seat Sprint Center in 2007. Attendance for the preseason game against the Kings was 9,792.
Barclays Center holds only 14,500 for hockey, which would be the smallest venue in the NHL. Yormark said there are no issues with changing the arena over from basketball or other events to hockey.
“You always have to take that first step,” he said. “This is a good first step.”
Nassau County executive Ed Mangano, who pushed for a $400-million referendum for a new Coliseum that was voted down on Aug. 1, said in a statement: “I hope their experience in Brooklyn reaffirms why they should be playing hockey in Nassau County.”
Jay-Z, who is part owner of the Nets, will open the new arena with a concert on Sept. 28.
“We’re excited to play at Barclays Center, which is a state-of-the-art facility,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said before Tuesday night’s game with the Hurricanes.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been a vocal proponent of a new arena in Nassau County and has made it clear that the league would prefer the Islanders stay where they are beyond 2015.
“They still have 3 1/2 years to go,” Bettman said this past weekend. “I find it hard to believe that there won’t be a solution to that building situation. Long Island deserves a new building, not just for hockey, but for concerts and family shows and the like. And I’ve got to believe the people in charge of those things will tend to it in due course.”
With Randi Marshall