The New York Islanders announced on Jan. 31 that they will play the New Jersey Devils in the first NHL game played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The game will take place next preseason on Oct. 2, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. (via Islanders)
Islanders general manager Garth Snow said about the event:
"We're extremely excited to play the first NHL game in the new, state-of-the-art Barclays Center," Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. "We already have some of the most passionate fans in the league supporting our young team, and we are looking forward to expanding our base into Brooklyn."
Brett Yormark, Barclays Center CEO, sees the game as an opportunity for the Islanders to win new fans and still draw the current fanbase.
"We feel Brooklyn is an untapped hockey market that offers the Islanders with an exciting opportunity to grow its fan base," Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. "Barclays Center will also afford current Islander fans with great accessibility, as the Long Island Rail Road and nine subway lines will come directly to the arena at the Atlantic Terminal transit hub."
Should we expected a Brooklyn move in the Islanders' future? That's unlikely says Sports Illustrated's Stu Hackel. The Islanders have an established fan base and see this game as a way to expand into some of the Rangers' territory. As you can see from the quotes above, the Islanders are looking to expand their base, not change it. That's probably for the best.
The Islanders already have an established fan base in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. These are relatively affluent areas, especially compared to working class Brooklyn. Now, we're all for arenas in working class neighborhoods and maybe Brooklynites would flock to see the Islanders, but maybe not. Research shows that hockey's demographics in the U.S. generally skew toward wealthier patrons. That would leave the team hoping that its established fans would make the trip west to Brooklyn and continue their support of the club. (via SI)
Hackel points out the problems the Coyotes had when they moved their arena away from their established fanbase. In addition, the Barclays Center doesn't provide an ideal venue for the Islanders in terms of design or revenue.
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