02 August 2011
Many things are uncertain right now with the New York Islanders, but one thing is very certain the team is wanted in boroughs that are close to their current home.
Both the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn are expressing interest in having the Islanders call their municipality home. This would not be the first time that either side has made a push for the team. Brooklyn made a play for the team a year ago, while Queens has been a more recent suitor. Rumors of the Wilpon family, who own the New York Mets, teaming up Charles Wang to get something done in the Willets Point area are the most recent. Although with the Wilpons current state that matchup ended quickly.
This morning the New York Post reported that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz believes the only place the Islanders should consider relocating to is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“The Islanders belong in Brooklyn,” Markowitz told the New York Post. “We've got lots of hockey fans, and since we're technically still on Long Island, they can call themselves the 'Brooklyn Islanders.' If they come here, I would personally take the first spin on the Zamboni.
At a glance the move to Brooklyn would make sense. The arena is set to open up in September 2012 and will have an NHL sized rink. The problem is the seating capacity, which would only seat 14,500 fans according to the New York Post report. That would be the smallest arena in the NHL.
In Queens there are also people who want to bring pro hockey to the Willets Point area. One of them being Queens Chamber of Commerce executive director Jack Friedman.
“I have been a proponent of relocating the Lighthouse Project to Queens for several years,” Friedman said via email this afternoon. “The master plan at Willets Point contains all the elements of (Charles) Wang's Lighthouse plan including, housing, commercial and retail space and of course, a multi-use arena / convention center. We have better access to rails, ground transit and roads and have an infrastructure recently upgraded for the new Citifield and USTA. We have parking, hotels and I can go on forever. Hopefully Wang and the NYC Economic Development Corp can discuss the feasibility of such a move. Up until now we have taken a hands off approach so not to encroach on Nassau County's negotiations, but if Wang is considering moving, we are the best option. I think it’s a no brainer.”
However Talks need to go through the New York City Economic Development Corp, which is the group in charge of the Willets Point development, and Friedman suggests that the borough president should be involved as well.
For their part the New York Economic Development Corp gave the following statement on the possibility of putting an NHL arena in the Willets Point area.
“We are open to evaluating any proposals that fall within the guidelines of the approved rezoning.”
“The Queens Chamber's role will be one of advocate, trying to get the sides together to talk,” Friedman said in response to whether or not Queens would be willing to make the first move. “Any deal is going to require some type of gov't support, subsidies or tax credits, sinilar to deals for CitiField and yankee Stadium. The Chamber cannot be helpful there. We can be helpful keeping the pressure on and reminding local legislators and City officials to the incremental tax revenue, the job opportunities and the economic growth the project could bring to Queens.”
Although Friedman does not see the Islanders as his main focus for the Willets Point area.
“My focus is on the multi-use arena/convention center, the jobs and the local business opportunities. The Islanders are the icing.”
There is hope for Islanders fans that the team will stay in the NY area and Nassau County says it’s still committed to keeping the team. Only time will tell where the team ends up.
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