With the deal all but confirmed, the Islanders are coming back to play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (NVMC). Next year they will be playing 12 games in Uniondale with the option to add more the following seasons. If the building does not prove to meet NHL (or the Islanders) standards the Isles will be able to return to the Barclays Center fulltime. I would imagine the 2019-20, and 2020-21 seasons would be spent entirely at the NVMC. At the end of the day, that is the plan that works best for everyone. The issue is how they get there. I think it’s a safe bet to say the fans want the team in Uniondale full time instead of Brooklyn. Yes, I understand it’s not unanimous, but the fanbase as a whole is better served in Uniondale. The issue is what are the benefits and detriments for both Brooklyn Sports Entertainment (BSE) and the New York Islanders.
Brooklyn Sports Entertainment
BSE have made it no secret that they want the Isles to leave the Barclays Center, and return to the NVMC. This has been a bad marriage from the start, and the sooner they are out of it the better. Hypothetically it seems, if BSE managed only the Barclays Center, they would still be looking for a way out of this deal, the fact that they also run the NVMC is just a “bonus” in this scenario. The Barclays Center has become one of the most popular arenas in the country. With events most nights, the Islanders have become nothing more than a hinderance. With 40+ dates already dedicated to them, along with needed to keep possible spring dates open for playoffs, the Barclays Center does not want the Islanders. Looking at the 2017-18 schedule the Islanders play(ed) 14 games on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday, which is looked at as a wasted opportunity by BSE. Due to the configuration of the building, Barclays Center has become a bit of a laughing stock because of how ill-equipped they are for hockey. When the goal is to be a world class venue, having any events that come across amateur is not the image they want to present to the world. Keeping the Islanders in Barclays Center long-term, would not be beneficial to BSE.
BSE has the added “bonus” of operating the NVMC. They need the Islanders to play at the NVMC nearly as much as they want them to leave Barclays Center. It’s no secret they put a lot of money into that building, and they need to make up for that investment. That building needs a reason for people to visit. The NBA GLeague with the Long Island Nets is not enough to draw a crowd. In order for the building to be viable it needs an anchor tenant. There are only so many concerts, and shows to fill dates in Nassau County. They made some major mistakes in renovating the building, this is an opportunity for them to compensate for those mistakes. This is the best interest of BSE, the question is how much will it cost them to get what they want.
New York Islanders/NHL
The Islanders are in a tricky spot here. First, they need to get the NHL to agree to any deal. There is a certain standard that each arena much maintain. This probably won’t be a concern since, I can’t see where this building is any worse than when they left it in 2015 (which was probably an improvement over the late nineties). This is truly a financial issue for the Islanders, and they are right to think this way. It does not matter how much goodwill is created, they cannot make enough money at the NVMC for it to be a viable option. It wasn’t viable in 2015 and since then, they removed over 2000 and have limited the amount of luxury boxes, and VIP areas. Even in a short-term deal, this would not work for the Islanders. No matter how much everyone wants this to happen, additional steps need to be taken.
This current situation is very unique. From both a public relations and financial point of view It is in the best interest of BSE, for the Isles to play at the NVMC instead of the Barclays Center. For the Islanders public relations wise, playing in Uniondale is great, but financially not so much. If they just accepted a deal to move back to Uniondale next season, they would take a killing financially. The Islanders know that BSE needs this to happen more than the Isles do. If financially viable, the Islanders are better off in Uniondale. This is why eventually we all see the outcome. There is no reason why the Islanders can’t play two full seasons at the NVMC before finally opening up a new home in October 2021. This is the destination everyone wants; the only negotiation is how they get there.