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Filed under Sports & Fitness

A Move Back Home?

Will the NY Islanders be successful in their bid for an arena at Belmont?

Belmont+Race+Park+grandstands.
Belmont Race Park grandstands.

Belmont Race Park grandstands.

Photo by Creative Commons

Photo by Creative Commons

Belmont Race Park grandstands.

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Big news for Long Island fans of the New York Islanders, as they are possibly planning a move back to the Island. Buzz around the sports world is that the New York Islanders are already making plans to move back to Nassau County after only two seasons playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. This time The Islanders are not going to move back to their home for over forty years where they won four straight NHL Stanley Cup Championships from 1980 to 1983 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum; but instead are planning to move a ten-minute drive to Elmont. The proposed stadium will be near the horse racing track Belmont Park and will be built on a vacant area of 43-acres of land.

The Islanders are not the only sports team in New York that want this land, because the MLS soccer club New York City Football Club (or NYCFC if you prefer acronyms) also want to play there. The NYCFC currently share their home stadium at Yankee Stadium with the New York Yankees, who are also a minority owner of the soccer team. As of right now, the football club has more details about their plan than The Islanders, as they have released their idea for a proposed outdoor soccer-specific stadium which will seat 23,000 , this is currently less than Yankee Stadium which has a seating capacity over 5,000 more than their ideal for their own stadium. The NYCFC is currently third out of twenty clubs in MLS attendance and have an average of 29,016 fans attend due to unrestricted numbers holding more than the supposed capacity and they also have on average more fans attend than any other sports team in the New York Metropolitan area, except for the Yankees, Mets, Giants, and Jets.

In comparison, since the move to Brooklyn, The Islanders have been in twenty-eighth place out of thirty teams in NHL average attendance of around 13,300 in two seasons. This average attendance is only better than the Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes, two teams which have long histories riddled with change of ownership and relocation rumors. The Islanders’ current arena has the second-worst seating capacity in the NHL, only beating out the Winnipeg Jets with a seating capacity of 15,795. This means that not only do the Islanders have a bad hockey arena, but that they are also failing to sell out their games with around 15.5% of the arena in two seasons not being filled. 

All in all, a change in location to a team called the “Islanders” back to Long Island can’t be any worse than what they are doing now. Being dead-last in attendance and attendance percentage so far in the 2017-2018 NHL season, this is a move I hope they’ll make soon. Hopefully, we will soon know the outcome of who will be the winning bidder for the Belmont Arena — recently, Amazon also submitted a bid to acquire the land. It’s anyone’s game at this point.

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A Move Back Home?