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After Yormark says hockey "economics just don't work," Isles' owner asserts focus on Belmont

Judging by recent rhetoric, the Islanders-Barclays split is on its way, with the arena dissing the team, and the team looking elsewhere.

In a 10/9/17 interview with Sports Business Daily, Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, sounded distinctly soured on the Barclays Center as a home for the New York Islanders, as the hockey team enters its third year.

"The economics just don’t work," he said. "It’s a Long Island team trying to create a fan base in Brooklyn, and to date it has been met with very modest success and not at the numbers we have hoped."

That sounds like a prelude to a divorce. I would have expected more conciliatory words, since I expect a renegotiation of the arena-team deal rather than a new arena for the Islanders. But maybe it's strategic too, as Lighthouse Hockey pointed out.

Why don't I expect a new arena, given that the team owners seem ever more serious about it? Because I think there would be an arena glut in the region, and no justification for public subsidies or other assistance. Writes Lighthouse's Dominik:
 Smart money is that both sides could use each other to extend the relationship even as the Isles attempt to win the RFP to build a new home in Belmont: The Isles still need a home, and BSE could still use revenue, albeit on better terms than what they originally reached with the Islanders.
Yormark's language was rather distancing because it was equally--if not more--the responsibility of the Barclays Center to create a fan base, and to retain the Long Island fan base. What happened to "Tradition has a new home"?

What about Yormark's September 2016 quote to Newsday:
"The playoffs represented a moment where we all said hockey has arrived in Brooklyn,” Yormark said. “I think we took that momentum into the offseason.”
Or, as FanSided puts it:
The economics don’t work because Barclays has been poor in its execution of welcoming a lost and traveling fanbase through its doors.
 The owner speaks

As Newsday and the New York Times reported (and shown in the front page above right), Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky yesterday told reporters that a new hockey-focused arena at Belmont was their focus: “We have blinders on for Belmont. We are not looking at other places or other opportunities.”

The team and partners have presented a bid to Empire State Development, along with two others. The specifics of the bid are unclear, including the amount of state assistance and the market study that explains how the arena would work financially

“This is all about the arena,” Ledecky said, in what might sound like a jab at the Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park project but perhaps was more aimed at the team's previous owners. “It is not a real estate play.”

The owner said the renovated Nassau Coliseum, which lacks luxury suites, is not an alternative. Though the Islanders will play in Brooklyn for their fourth season, he wouldn't offer an alternative in the interim if Belmont doesn't work out or doesn't get built promptly.

Regarding Yormark's remarks, Ledecky said, “I guess he’s saying the people on their side didn’t make a good deal.”


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