Islanders Say New Arena Will Be Privately Financed

Islanders Say New Arena Will Be Privately Financed


Sharing Barclays Center with the Nets has been difficult. Fans have not shown up in numbers needed to make the arrangement worthwhile. The Islanders are last in the N.H.L. in attendance this season, with about 11,500 fans per game, and they were near the bottom the previous two seasons. There are hundreds of obstructed-view seats and frequent complaints about the quality of the ice at Barclays Center, which opened in 2012 but was not built with hockey in mind.

The Islanders or Barclays Center can opt out of their lease in January. The team has said it intends to play in Brooklyn through next season. But the new arena will not be ready until 2020 at the earliest, so the Islanders may need a temporary home.

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo endorsed the Islanders’ plan to build a new arena at Belmont Park.

Credit
Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a native of nearby Queens, attended the news conference on Wednesday in support of the Islanders’ arena plan. He urged the N.H.L. commissioner, Gary Bettman, to let the team return on an interim basis to Nassau Coliseum, which after a recent renovation can seat only 13,500 for hockey.

“We’ll take a look at it,” Bettman said.

Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which runs Barclays Center and the new Nassau Coliseum, said in a statement that it hoped the Islanders would use their former home after they leave Brooklyn and before their first opening face-off at Belmont.

“We are currently awaiting a response from the Islanders to our proposal to bring N.H.L. games back home to the Coliseum on an interim basis,” the statement said. “We understand the required approvals from all parties involved to make that happen, and are prepared to facilitate any necessary enhancements.”

The addition of yet another arena in the New York area represents a different kind of challenge in an already crowded marketplace. The Islanders’ new home would be the fifth arena in the area, including Madison Square Garden and Prudential Center in Newark.

“I’m not worried about other arenas,” Ledecky said. “I’m concerned about making our arena the best in the world.”

Belmont Park, which opened in 1905, hosts horse racing from roughly May through October, including the Belmont Stakes in June. There would not be much overlap with the hockey season unless the Islanders made a long playoff run.

Some certainty about their arena will improve the Islanders’ chances of re-signing their star center John Tavares to a new long-term contract. Tavares, 27, the face of the franchise since he was selected first over all in the 2009 draft, could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

“The Islanders are called the Islanders for a reason,” he said Wednesday. “This is really where the team belongs.”



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