EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a lot of uncertainty about the Islanders’ future, but at least we now know where they’ll call home during the 2018-19 season.
Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky told reporters Tuesday that the team will continue to play at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center while it seeks a new long-term home, according to Newsday.
Ledecky also admitted the team is focused on building a new arena near Belmont Park. The Islanders, along with several other partners, submitted a bid to the state last month to develop a new facility there.
He added that returning to Nassau Coliseum is not an option.
“We have blinders on for Belmont,” he reportedly said.
After spending their first 43 years of existence at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders moved to the Barclays Center before the 2015-16 season. But Barclays officials have reportedly concluded the venue would be better off financially without the Islanders, leaving the NHL franchise scrambling to find a new home.
Barclays and the Islanders have until Jan. 1 to renegotiate their 25-year lease or, if a new deal is not reached, until Jan. 30 to deliver an opt-out notice. Ledecky declined to say Tuesday how the opt-out deadline may impact the team’s plans.
The Islanders and Barclays have an unusual agreement in which the arena pays the team $53.5 million a year in exchange for business operations, which includes ticket and suite sales.
In Brooklyn, the Isles have struggled to attract new fans while their existing supporters have complained about obstructed-view seats and the loss of some traditions from the team’s decades on Long Island. Some players also have complained about the quality of the ice.
With a seating capacity of 15,700 for hockey, Barclays Center is considered small by NHL standards.
Former majority owner Charles Wang moved the team after voters in 2011 rejected a referendum that would have used taxpayer money to build a new arena on Long Island. Ledecky and Scott Malkin purchased the franchise for $485 million in 2014 and took control in July 2016.
Last season, the Islanders averaged 13,101 fans per game, which ranked 28th out of 30 NHL teams. That was down from 13,626 last season and down from 15,334 in 2014-15 — their last year at Nassau Coliseum.