The New York Islanders are one month from unofficially opening their tenure at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where they’ll take on the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game Sep. 21 at 7:00 p.m.
The talk around the team lately has focused on one of two things: the organization’s impending permanent relocation to Brooklyn, or the possibility that the franchise will soon return to Long Island, depending on which side you’re on.
Politicians, businessmen, columnists and talking heads alike have already started the debate on whether the Islanders’ move to Brooklyn in 2015 will finally end the seemingly endless drama in Nassau County that’s surrounded the team for the better part of two decades.
And while the departure of Long Island’s only professional sports franchise is cause for mourning among the Isles faithful in Nassau and Suffolk counties, the time to look to the future is now.
Arguments that the Islanders will one day return to Uniondale in all their glory—hypothetically to a sold-out arena complete with luxury boxes that aren’t in the current design specs, a possible on-site public transportation hub that will allow out-of-towners to easily come to games, and a completely redeveloped surrounding area with a mall and a minor-league baseball stadium—are mostly based on a series of “what-ifs.”
Sure, team owner Charles Wang could sell the team. Sure, the seating configuration at Barclays Center isn’t ideal for hockey and may impact the Islanders’ ability to draw fans. And sure, Ratner just won the Coliseum bid, which somehow means he’s automatically bringing the Isles back to Nassau County just as soon as he cuts the ribbon on a supposed shining star of an arena in the not-too-distant future.
But when an argument relies on such a combination of “what-ifs” and “hey, it could happens,” and “no, just hear me outs,” it’s an argument with little evidence to support itself.
Sure, I could buy a Powerball ticket, but that doesn’t mean I’ll win the jackpot. (No matter how much I want it to happen.)
The money is and always will be in Brooklyn; it would rank as the fourth most populated city in the country, behind only the other boroughs of New York combined, Los Angeles and Chicago. In short, the Isles are assured of staying there once they arrive in 2015.
No matter who owns the team, the business of making money from the Isles will be his or her sole priority. And making money—as we’ve seen over the past 20 years—just doesn’t happen in Uniondale.
The county had several opportunities to keep its team, but missed every single one of them.
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Around the World: the Greatest Finnish Islanders (Isles Optimism)
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Two Minutes For Tweeting
— Brooklyn Roy (@RockyNY) August 21, 2013
The excitement in Brooklyn is building, even if the Isles aren’t set to become full-time tenants at Barclays Center for two more years.
— Joe castiglione (@Joejets86) August 21, 2013
The location of Isles home games might be different in a couple years, but the traditions established at the Coliseum will surely follow the team to Brooklyn.
As long as they are in NY...i am a fan...if it's in front of my TV or sitting in whatever arena they are playing in..#isles are my team
— PES120 (@PES120) August 20, 2013
Here’s the larger sentiment surrounding the Islanders: as long as they’re in the area, the fan base will support the team. Despite the move, the Isles are still a New York team.
I will always appreciate the long term commitments from Tavares, Moulson, Okposo, Grabner. #isles
— Peter Adams (@Peter_Adams) August 20, 2013
Perhaps the most underrated facet of the Isles five-year rebuild has been the long-term commitments by the team’s most important players. The best scouting, drafting and planning by the front office can all be laid to waste if the players don’t want to remain with the franchise; Isles fans should never take for granted the love that their favorite players have for the organization.
Yup. This hashtag still works.
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