The saga has finally come to a close. After nearly a decade of talks, hope and political dysfunction, the Islanders' future is finally secure. They now have a brand new state of the art building (via the team's official website) to call their own after the 2014-2015 season.
On Wednesday, October 24, Islanders management and Barclays Center management held a press conference to announce the Islanders had signed a 25-year deal to play at the arena.
This not only secures the future for our beloved team, but brings an end to all the questions of moving the team out of state and country. Talks apparently began around seven months ago, according to owner Charles Wang in the interview. This may be a bit of a shot to Nassau County, which was working on the RFQ at this time and was due to announce within the next few days.
I'm sure there's no love lost between Nassau and Charles after the epic saga between the two, as the Islanders owner has stated he plans to honor his lease until 2015 with Nassau.
There has been some concern as to the size of the building, but when asked, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman replied that Wang and Bruce Ratner were prepared to add more seats to bring capacity to "15,000 plus" and that "Winnipeg is doing quite well in a building about the same size."
Apparently, Charles had some "very good" offers from outside of the New York metro area, yet he chose to keep the Islanders here. Nassau was its own worst enemy in the end, which will cost it dearly. It now has no professional sports teams, an empty building and lost revenue to make up for.
On top of that, seeing as the main tenant was driven away to Brooklyn, what's the point of the RFQ anymore?
Travel will undoubtedly be made easier for most, with multiple trains coming into the Barclays Center. Apparently, 11 different subway lines and the LIRR come to the station at the Barclays Center.
There is some criticism that it strands fans from Eastern Long Island and adds travel time onto the already decent trip to Nassau Coliseum, but in reality, a massive number fans from Eastern Long Island make the trip to Metlife stadium for Jets and Giants games and this shouldn't be a huge issue.
While the history and sight lines of Nassau Coliseum will be missed by the diehard fans, it's the new and young fans who will appreciate the Barclays Center the most. That is not to say that older fans won't enjoy the brand new building. The setup of the Barclays Center will provide a very engaging experience; the seats are steep and fans will be right on top of the action.
As fans, we no longer need to worry about the future of our team. It is staying right here in New York, and Brooklyn still is a part of Long Island. We have another 25 years with our team, while a mere few months ago, we weren't sure we'd have it for longer than another 36 months.
Wang has done right, he kept the team here where it belongs. Whether or not some believe he's a good owner is entirely moot as of this moment. He has years to open up his wallet now, and free agents can't be written off as not wanting to play here because of our building.
There is now renewed hope for this team in every way.
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