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January 15, 2012

A 14,500 Seat Arena May Just Be The Right Size For The Islanders

Some people believe that the new Barclays Center is too small to house an NHL franchise, since it will only house a 14,500 seat capacity for hockey.  However if you look at the Islanders attendance figures over the years that does not seem to be the case.

The average attendance for the Islanders over their first 39 season (this season is excluded) is 13,000 per game.  That means that the Barclays Center offers over 1,500 seats more than the Islanders fill in a yearly average.  In addition,  the Islanders only averaged a crowed over 14,500 13 times in their first 39 years of existence (1987-88 and 2001-02 were excluded from that stat since the team averaged in the 14,500's), which means the Islanders would have fit comfortably in the Barclays Center for 26 seasons (66%).  Having a smaller arena may actually help the Islanders ownership financially, since it would create a demand for tickets. Especially if the team is competitive, the supply and demand would be in the owners favor, and allow him to make a profit.  Even during the Islanders glory years the team did not average a capacity crowd of 16,234 at the coliseum.    

For the fans that would mean higher ticket prices in Brooklyn if the team is winning, since the demand would be high.  However, I believe many fans would accept that to keep the Islanders in New York and better yet to see them be competitive again.


  1. islanders will move to Quebec City in one day.

  2. I agree that Quebec wants a team and so does Seattle. I have articles about both possibilities, but I can see the league wanting to keep the Isles in NY if they can. Plus if the Coyotes don't get an owner soon they will be the next team to relocate and most likely to Quebec.

    We already seen the league allow a team move to a similar size arena when there weren't any other options when the Thrashers became the Jets. If the Isles have no other local options by the time the lease is up the league won't have another choice if they want to keep the team in the NY market.Plus we will figure out a lot more after next years preseason game in Brooklyn.

  3. I see where youre coming from with this.
    But the thing is- with such a small arena, as the team does better and attendance rises, if there are no more seats to sell then the only thing they will be able to do is inflate the cost of tickets to prices where many of us will no longer be able to afford to go to Islanders games. That would suck.

  4. TheMetalChick

    Yes the fans are the ones that would have to pay more in the end. The way I look at it is no matter where the team is playing ticket prices would go up if the team is winning. This post looked at the issue more from an ownership position and how it could benefit them financially having a smaller arena and if the team would fit. In order to get this team winning again it needs financial stability where the owner can make money to put back into the team, which I can't remember the last time the Islanders had that.

  5. Your above display of attendance is VERY deceiving because you are missing very important variables. First of all, the Nassau Coliseum had 14,997 SEATS for hockey until the 81-82 season. This means in three of those early seasons, they had STANDING ROOM crowds (the top few rows didn't yet exist). Yes, they literally gave away more than the building could hold.

    I can tell that you do not remember the days, where you, as the cliche goes, "couldn't get a ticket", but I can attest that those days did exist. The Islanders would have had attendance figures averaging in the 16,000's in those three years and in the Cup years, had there been the seats to sell. They didn't exist. (The NVMC was under 16,000 before Wang bought and added even more seating).

    Therefore, this argument for the Brooklyn arena really is an example of trying to mold an argument to fulfill a wish. It would be better, from an Islander fan's perspective, than Quebec, but making paper-thin arguments for it's viability is silly.

  6. Jon

    I thought that it became 16,234 seats after they added new seats and suits in the early 80's. I would love for the team to stay in Nassau in a new or renovated Coliseum, but things aren't looking great on that front. I think in order for Mangano's plan of an RFQ and getting privately developed to work the zoning needs to be increased. With that said I'll take any option that keeps them in NY.

  7. Before the dynasty the team nearly went bankrupt and folded, which the Rangers were hoping for, so they could get their hands on Bossy and Potvin. However, John Pickett went from minority owner to majority owner and paid the rest of the territorial fee in order to prevent that from happening in 78 or 79. The only time the Islanders were financially stable in Nassau County was during the Dynasty Era. A team shouldn't have to win the cup every year to make a profit and survive. With that said I hope that the team does find a solution that gives them financial stability in Nassau, but I have a hard time seeing it happening.

    Jon I don't remember those years, since I was born in 1985. I wish I was there to enjoy the experience and I hope that I at least get to enjoy one in my lifetime. In order for that to happen the Islanders need to settle this arena situation and the only option that isn't pie in the sky at this time is Brooklyn.

    1. Danbury, The Islanders, had it not been for Pickett getting fleeced by Hyatt/SMG and the county in 1985, would have stayed among the top 3 teams in earnings for a very long time with their cable deal. As it was, the Islanders were in the top 5 until the early 90's, when other franchises (especially in the U.S.) started to diversify their revenue streams, which the Islanders under their lease could not do (and the Islanders started to beome a losing team for many years, too).

      I'm sorry Danbury, but waiting to see if the NYI go to Brooklyn is a losing stance in my opinion. Too many confluent factors against it happening. I'm not trying to rain on your parade, but, as I said in another post here, I would urge you to take a different, more pro-active tack in your usage of your blog.

      Assume the worst, for you see the men with whom were stuck with running things, both in the NHL and in local (Nassau)government. Then, go after them and start petitions, document correspondence, email NY Congressmen, Senators, Nassau County Executives and other Nassau cronies/politicians, and you will actually be one of the few doing anything to help fix the problem.

    2. I agreed that the lease Picket signed in 1985 giving away all of the teams revenue stream is the key reason for the Islanders struggles the face today. That lease is the worse in sports history plain and simple. Picket saved the team in the late 70's only to ruin it by the late 80's.

  8. Sorry, I'll shut up after this. I believe for many years, the NYI had anywhere between 11,500 and 13,500 SEASON TICKETS sold out. So my estimate of an average of 16000 a night might actuallt be very conservative. They may have been able to consistently fill up the Bell Center in their heyday.

    My father had to wait to take me to games for my mother's colleague (whom was an M.D.) to give us a pair of tickets, otherwise, it was a no-go. Look at tapes of games from the dynasty era, and you see many of the same faces in the 100's and 200's at all of the games.

    1. It amazing how we have fallen from grace and only have 4,000 full season ticket holders and 7,000 if you factor in partial plans.

    2. Yes, but there is actually yet another side to this coin. In 2002 and 2003, and after years of being beaten down, all that was really needed to bring back an average in the high 14,000's-15,000 was the infusion of real effort to build a winner and hope that there could possibly be one. They didn't even need to build the friggin' winner!! They just needed a sniff - a long shot - to bring this fanbase back. That is the astounding part. If there was ever a winner here again (once again, if and buts mean nothing, and there probably won't be), they would sell out the building in no time flat. I'm convinced of that, even after all of this time as a mickey mouse organization.

    3. A winner can draw anywhere no doubt about that.

  9. The Cablevision Rangers have ads for individual tickets all over their website and despite the phony announced sellouts have had problems filling their seats for generations also.

    It's hockey, in baseball's town with no media. Weeknight hockey is a huge problem in this market, even harder today with prices and Dolan in total charge of television market plus the media does not need hockey.

    Newark funded most of an arena for the Devils, they cannot fill it at playoff time even after buying Kovalchuk.

    All three teams are bleeding cash, Cablevision will take the hit.

    As for Charles Wang, he owns the Marriott and spent 90m for it so why is he moving away from the hotel he bought out Rechler to control so he can be a tenant and his hotel can lose business? Wang/Rechler also spent 17m on the sublease until 2015. Wang last summer bought the management rights to Webster Bank Arena and the Sound Tigers lease runs until 2021.

    Wang gets the deal he got last summer where he is new Smg in exchange for rent/revenue he will likely take a renovation/new building. His hotel cannot be moved and it's his with a 40 foot walk of champions arena between the hotel and Coliseum.

    As for Dolan his media department has a job, hide the Isles on television and in his newspaper or run them down to drive people away in the hope of getting back the cable money until 2030.

  10. Without a doubt Wang wants things to workout in Nassau and that he would take a renovated arena. However, the issue still is Nassau County and politics. The County and the town of Hempstead have prevented a resolution to this issue for three decades now and, Wang can't keep waiting for them to get there act together. Why would Wang move to Brooklyn even if he owns the Marriott.
    1) He has lost 250 million dollars at his current location
    2)If he still interested in developing he can get in on the Atlantic Yard Development
    3) Brooklyn as a market would offer more corporate support
    4 Its better than leaving the market all together