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Newsday: Long Island business leader says Barclays aiming to move Islanders to Nassau (but downsized arena)

Update: Newsday reports that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the Coliseum was “not a long-term option” for the Islanders, and that the team staying at Barclays Center was still on the table.

Here they go again. Newsday reported yesterday, Barclays Center pitch would return Islanders to Nassau Coliseum, says LIA chief, quoting Kevin Law, CEO of the business group Long Island Association.

According to Law, Mikhail Prokhorov's Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which would rather not lose the Islanders to an out-of-state arena or a new one at Belmont Park, is willing to add seats to the undersized arena.

The problem is that the Nassau Coliseum was just downsized and remodeled, and reports from concerts say it's already too crowded in the concourses. The other problem is that the owners of the hockey team have not expressed any interest in moving back to a downsized arena with no public transit and limited suites.

I'd still bet this is all part of an effort to renegotiate the terms of the Barclays Center deal; that window to revise the deal begins next month and lasts the rest of the year. As I've written, the deal at Barclays does not seem great for either side, but it's not necessarily worse than the alternatives.

Newsday reported, "Amy Varghese, a spokeswoman for Empire State Development, said that the state’s primary business development agency is 'working to finalize' a new request for proposals to develop Belmont Park."

Despite talk of a new arena, I don't see the business case for it--not only would revenues have to pay off ongoing expenses, it would have to cover construction costs.

Much skepticism

Newsday editorial writer Randi Marshall tweeted, among other things:
  • To be clear, this means nothing. 1) Says nothing about what Islanders ownership wants. 2) Does nothing for public transit issues... 
  • 3) inside concourse created by removing seats is best feature of new arena. Adding seats means more crowded concourse....
  • And 4) this does nothing about suites restaurants club seats and other amenities #iskes would need.
  • Bringing #isles back to Coli is a nice idea. But Wang proposed $350 million reno of coliseum&Ratner spent $160 mil. You get what you pay for
  • And just to clarify, while coli is a nice idea it may not be the best idea for #isles and for region.

Dan Saraceni of Lighthouse Hockey wrote:
Barclays can pitch Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin on whatever they want. The facts remain that the Coliseum is A. 3,000 seats smaller than it used to be; B. Still not owned by the Islanders; C. Still located in a county that’s deathly averse to progress or growth of any kind and D. Still not located near any public transportation of note.
He also noted Rolling Stone's coverage of Billy Joel’s re-opening concert:
Once you finally enter it becomes instantly clear that the concourses are still far too narrow. Getting around feels like squeezing through a crowded subway car during rush hour. There are plenty of new concession stands; the only problem is the lines were so ludicrously long at every single one of them the people in the back probably didn't make their seats until "Piano Man." The lines for beer, T-shirts, food and the bathrooms all ran into each other, making it hard to tell where one began and another began. For lack of a better term, it was a complete shit show.
That's interesting--as were reports that a change in configuration for the Idina Menzel concert blocked out and infuriated fans, as have increased parking fees.

That contrasts with the fall 2012 opening at the Barclays Center, which, for attendees at least, went pretty smoothly. (Some concerts, especially those with limo-heavy crowds like Barbra Streisand, were significant impositions on neighbors.)

You'd think they'd take pains to keep customers happy. Then again, they had a much smaller budget.