The New York Islanders reportedly have an opt-out clause with the Barclays Center, but neither the team nor arena will be choosing to use it when the time comes. The Islanders’ average attendance has dipped by nearly 2,000 per game this season.
The New York Islanders’ inaugural season playing out of the Barclays Center has seen the team head back to the post-season and earn themselves at least two more home contests in 2015-16, but the on-ice success doesn’t mean everything about the move Brooklyn has worked as the Islanders had hoped.
In the Islanders’ first season at Barclays, the team’s average attendance has dipped by nearly 2,000 per game, there has been longer travel for fans coming in from Long Island and there have been complaints about sight lines and obstructed views as the Islanders new home. However, amidst rumblings the team and arena may look to get out of the lease agreement, it doesn’t appear that will be the case.
According to Newsday’s Jim Baumbach and Mark Harrington, the Islanders and the Barclays Center’s 25-year lease agreement includes an out-clause that the two parties could take advantage of after the fourth season, but Newsday reported that neither the team nor arena have made any indication that they plan on using the out. This despite some claims that the team may seek to get out of the lease sooner than that.
One major issue for the Islanders, regardless of their feelings about the Barclays Center, is that as it stands there is no other building that could potentially host the team. After leaving Nassau Coliseum following last season, the Islanders’ only feasible choice for a home arena was Barclays, and commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that, saying he didn’t see “any alternative” right now. Bettman added that the only thing that was certain was that the Islanders had outgrown their previous home in Nassau County.
“The Islanders shouldn’t have been in the Nassau Coliseum as long as they were,” Bettman said, via Newsday. “People tend to over-romanticize the Nassau Coliseum. They tend to think this is the 1970s, early ’80s. The fact of the matter is, that arena was not a first-class major league facility and hadn’t been for some time.”
Bettman said he understands there has been complaints about the environment at Islanders’ games during the season, but said there has been a noticeable improvement as the season has worn on. Newsday reported the attendance has seen a significant improvement — an increase of roughly 2,000 per game — from the start of the campaign until now.
“[Nassau Coliseum] was something special,” Islanders captain John Tavares told Newsday. “There’s no secret that that was a pretty amazing experience…We obviously hope [Barclays Center] is something similar to that [in the playoffs].”