After years of instability, new ownership and management have finally stabilized the New York Islanders. The crowning jewel of that stability is embodied in the foundation of the Isles new home in Belmont Park; UBS Arena.
That same stability will finally be shared by the Islanders AHL affiliate after the city of Bridgeport agreed to a major investment in the B-Islanders home – Webster Bank Arena – and a deal that would keep the AHL side in Bridgeport for the next decade.
New York Islanders AHL affiliate achieves stability
In a 13-4 vote, the Bridgeport City Council voted in favor of a plan that would see the B-Islanders stay at the Webster Bank Arena for the next ten years. That includes a $28 million investment to fix the 20-year-old arena to a “like-new status”.
The Isles AHL side and the city have been at each other for years now. All for what would have been less than the cost of an NHL minimum salary. But all that fighting and litigation actually led to a new deal to keep the two together.
And now the AHL side can stabilize their operation from the top down.
Of course, the B-Islanders success on the ice flows from the players their parent side feeds them but just like any business much of their success is dictated by the strength of the business itself. This deal gives the B-Islanders that bill of good health.
I know some Isles fans wanted the B-Islanders, then Sound Tigers, to move to the now vacant (in terms of hockey) Nassau Coliseum. But staying in Bridgeport is a good move for both sides.
Consolidating all of the attention of the Isles franchise on Long Island certainly makes sense from one point of view, but from a brand standpoint having a team with deep roots in Bridgeport stay there helps grow the brand name beyond the borders of Nassau and Suffolk county.
It also staves off any sort of viewer fatigue. Why dilute the same crowd with a pretty similar product in the Islanders and the Sound Tigers? And yes, I know there are some of us who would certainly watch both teams, but that isn’t the majority of fans.
Staying in Bridgeport is a good call and this deal helps put the, now, B-Isles on a stable path forward.