It seems that every week there’s a new chapter in the ongoing saga that is the New York Islanders arena search. In this week’s, installment New York Rangers owner wants in.
Bloomberg reports that a new arena for the New York Islanders has received some significant backing, in the form of New York Rangers owner James Dolan.
According to Bloomberg, an investment firm that Dolan is part of, the Oak View Group, and a group controlled by the Wilpon family, who also own the Mets, are interested in financing a new arena for the Islanders.
"James Dolan’s Madison Square Garden Co., which controls the Rangers, long the Islanders hated rivals, is an investor in Oak View Group, the private equity group run by Tim Leiweke and Irving Azoff. The Wilpon family, which owns the Mets, controls Sterling Project Development."
Great, a new player has entered the ring circus that is the New York Islanders pilgrimage from Nassau. And it’s the owner of their biggest rival.
But, if true, and that’s certainly a big if at this very early stage, this clears a very important hurdle for the Islanders to move out of the Barclays center; money.
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Show Me the Money
Building a new arena isn’t cheap. The Little Ceasar’s arena in Detroit is set to cost $732.5 million. Edmonton’s new Rogers Place cost upwards of $600 million. The Barclays Center cost an astounding $1 billion to construct.
Building a new arena is going to take signification financial investment. It’s not that current majority owner Scott Malkin and John Ledecky don’t have any money, but they just spent $485 million to acquire the team three years ago from Charles Wang (now a minority owner).
Shelling out another billion on a new barn would be tough. So, enter a group of equally wealthy investors to share the burden such as Dolan and the Wilpons. And now the ability to generate enough funds to build a new barn gets some momentum.
This by no means guarantees anything. Nothing has been agreed upon. Nothing has been signed. And there aren’t any shovels in the ground yet.
No Overnight Process
Don’t get caught up in the incredibly linear narrative that is local rivalries. Yup, the Rangers suck. We can all agree on that. But like Dan Saraceni points out, Islanders games are broadcast on Cablevision.
Sure, the product isn’t great, what with arbitrary service interruptions during Islanders broadcasts, but, according to Forbes.com the broadcast deal pays the Islanders somewhere between $14 to $35 million annually until 2030-31. The Rangers are already woven into the fabric of the Islanders, and it isn’t just out of pure tribalistic hatred.
If this gets the Islanders a step closer to getting a hockey first arena, great. But even if that’s the case there are a number of steps, and years, before that becomes a reality.
At the earliest, the Islanders can leave Barclays by the end of next season. That’s certainly not enough time to secure enough investors, navigate the endless bureaucracy to secure the rights to build, whether that be at Belmont or elsewhere, and then actually build the arena.
It took over just over two years to build Rogers Place, Little Caesars Arena in Detroit is scheduled to take three years to build.
Which means the Islanders aren’t going anywhere just yet. This is a great start if what Bloomberg reports turns out to be the case. But it does little to change what is likely going to be a renegotiation of the deal between the Barclays Center and the New York Islanders.