Prokhorov urging Islanders to play more on Long Island
Barclays Owner Reportedly Pushing Team Toward Its Original Home
Apparently, the ice isn’t the only thing melting beneath the New York Islanders’ skates these days.
The Brooklyn-based NHL franchise is also reportedly feeling the heat from Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov as well.
According to a story in Wednesday’s New York Post, Prokhorov, who sunk a $165 investment into the renovated Nassau Coliseum, now rebranded as NYCB Live, wants the Islanders to play a portion of their 2018-19 home schedule at the Uniondale, N.Y. arena.
The Russian billionaire and Brooklyn Nets owner made concessions in the original renovation deal that promised the Isles would play some regular-season games at the Coliseum upon its completion.
But other than a scheduled Sept. 17 exhibition game there prior to this coming season, no definitive plans have been made for the team to return to its original home.
If the Isles don’t return to Long Island for any games during the 2018-19 campaign, Prokhorov could be held up for reneging on the original pact that allowed the Nassau Events Center to manage the facility.
With tensions on both sides bubbling under the surface for the past year or so, this is the first clear and visible sign that this marriage in Downtown Brooklyn was doomed form the start.
The Islanders have complained about ice conditions, obstructed view seating and several other arena issues since moving into the Barclays Center full-time to begin the 2015-16 campaign.
Prokhorov has been bemoaning the fact that he is obligated to pay the team upwards of $50 million per year regardless of attendance figures and concession sales as per the original 25-year lease agreement the parties inked back in October of 2012.
Also, getting the Isles out of Brooklyn would free up more arena time for concerts and boxing events, both of which have done well since the opening of the 5-year-old building.
Both sides have an opt-out following this coming season, but with the Isles still working on a deal for a new arena in Belmont. N.Y., adjacent to the legendary race track, a renegotiation of the lease agreement would work best for both sides going forward.
If Prokhorov can get out of the mandated yearly payments he has to make to the Isles, and the Nassau Coliseum is approved by the NHL to host regular-season games again, the Isles may find themselves here for the next several years while team co-owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin begin building their dream arena in Belmont.
The new Coliseum currently can hold just under 14,000 fans, but that number would likely drop below 13,000 for hockey, with the ice surface taking up significant space on the arena’s floor.
Last season, the Isles averaged 13,101 fans for their 41 home dates, the third-lowest figure in the 30-team league.
Their average seats filled against total capacity was at 82.9 percent, which ranked 26th overall ahead of only Colorado, Arizona and Carolina.
The confusion surrounding the franchise’s future may be holding up the extension talks between the Isles and star center John Tavares, who will be a free agent following the 2017-18 campaign, but has also been eligible to re-sign with New York since July 1.
Tavares suffered a hamstring injury on the Barclays Center ice during the Isles’ late-season push toward a playoff spot back in April, forcing him to miss New York’s final five contests.
Regardless of where they end up playing in the coming years, be it Brooklyn, Uniondale or Belmont, losing Tavares would be a crushing blow to an organization that has won just one playoff series since 1993.
Isle Have Another: The Isles got some bad news on the injury front this week as 24-year-old winger Shane Prince, who had five goals and 13 assists in 50 games for New York this season, underwent ankle surgery that will shelve him for the next four-to-six months. Prince, a key contributor during the Isles’ first-round playoff series win over Florida in 2016, was originally rehabbing the ankle in the offseason. “At the conclusion of the 2016-17 season, Shane Prince returned home and continued the rehabilitation of his high ankle sprain injury,” read a team-issued statement. “During the later stages of his rehabilitation he began to have increasing discomfort that deterred his training process for the upcoming 2017-18 season. After notifying our medical staff he was referred to specialists, who after trying more conservative measures determined that it was in Shane’s best interest to have surgery. He has since had the surgery, is doing well and is expected to return to full activity in 4-6 months.” … Prior to their Sept. 17 exhibition contest against Philadelphia on Long Island, the Isles will host the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, a main pillar of the league’s year-long centennial celebration, on Saturday, Sept. 16 at the team’s official practice facility, Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow, N.Y. During Saturday’s festivities, fans can watch the Islanders take the ice during Training Camp, as they prepare for the upcoming season. In addition, the team will have several Islanders activities on hand, including a Blowout Merchandise sale and the I.C.E (Islanders Community Events) interactive games such as the slapshot booth and obstacle course. Fans will also have the chance to meet Sparky, the team’s official mascot.
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