NEW YORK — The New York Islanders finally have a new home and it's in Brooklyn, the borough that is suddenly a hot bed of pro sports 54 years after baseball's Dodgers headed west.
It's a new place and it's only 35 minutes away by train, team owner Charles Wang said at a news conference Wednesday. Come and join us and see hockey.
After seven months of negotiations, and offers to move the team out of New York, Wang announced that the Islanders will relocate about 25 miles west once their lease expires at Nassau Coliseum after the 2014-15 season.
Since the day the Islanders entered the NHL in 1972, the Coliseum in Uniondale has been the place for them. It's where they grabbed the hockey spotlight, outshined the big, bad Rangers, and won the Stanley Cup four straight times from 1980-83.
But on Wednesday, the future became all about Brooklyn.
The move is hardly shocking and not even unprecedented. The old New York Nets left Nassau Coliseum way back when, relocated to New Jersey, and have moved into their new Brooklyn home — the new Barclays Center that will also house the Islanders.
Unlike the Nets, who changed the team logo and added Brooklyn to their name, the Islanders are sticking to their heritage through and through.
That is important to Mike Bossy, a Hockey Hall of Famer now serves as the Islanders' vice president of corporate partnerships.
Absolutely, he said. Charles' main goal was to keep the team local, and he succeeded in doing that. As much as people may be upset because it's not going to be in Nassau County they should be happy because he kept the team in New York.
Wang wanted to keep the team in New York despite failing to get the Lighthouse Project built on Long Island. The grandiose development plan would have included a new arena for the Islanders, but it never got the necessary approval for construction.
Both Wang and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated in the past that the Islanders wouldn't play in Nassau Coliseum one day longer that they had to. Wang said he had serious options to move the team far away — Kansas City and Quebec City both had been mentioned — but stuck to his desire to remain in the area.
We came to the right conclusion, Wang said.