NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — They aren’t exactly packing them in like they had hoped. At least not yet, anyway.
When it comes to attendance, the Islanders were expected to suffer through some transitional pains during their first season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, following a 43-year run at beloved Nassau Coliseum.
But the early numbers are a bit alarming, relocated franchise or not.
The Islanders rank second to last in the NHL in average attendance. They have played 11 home games to the tune of 12,157 per game, according to Newsday. They are ahead of only the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that is in rebuilding mode and not expected to challenge for anything significant this season.
The same cannot be said of the Islanders, who are coming off a 101-point season in 2014-15 and are saddled with a young, exciting roster that is the envy of many across the league. New York (10-6-3) currently sits tied for second place in the Atlantic Division with Washington.
The Islanders are also 28th in average percentage of capacity at 76.9. Only the Hurricanes (60.1) and Florida Panthers (75.3) are worse, Newsday reported. During their final season on Long Island, the Isles finished with a 94.8 percentage of capacity. The Coliseum held 16,170, while Barclays Center, an arena not built for hockey, has a capacity of 15,795.
Of its home games so far, New York has drawn less than 12,000 seven times, including during a 5-2 victory over Arizona on Monday.
Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center, told Newsday he is not discouraged by the numbers, which were expected to be impacted somewhat by fans’ general displeasure with the franchise for moving away from the only home it had ever known.
“The area we continue to work at is ticket sales,” he said. “Am I pleased with playing at 77 percent capacity and at 12.1 [thousand]?” Yormark said. “I’m fine with that. I’m never satisfied. My personality is I’m relatively a happy person, but never satisfied. I want more, and we’re going to be aggressive in getting more.”
He said he expects the Isles to do a lot better as the quality of the opponents on the schedule gets better. The Isles play Eastern Conference co-leaders Montreal and the New York Rangers, plus long-time rival Philadelphia in three of their next four home games.
Yormark went on to tell the newspaper that the Isles are ahead of budget projections for suite sales and are on target with sponsorships, two areas that were comparatively inferior when the franchise played in Nassau County.