A Tale of Two Isles Rumors: Barclays & NY Islanders Relationship Growing Pains Produce Queens & Belmont Venue Talk

A Tale of Two Isles Rumors: Barclays & NY Islanders Relationship Growing Pains Produce Queens & Belmont Venue Talk



“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Besides the opening of Charles Dicken’s “Tale of Two Cities”, this is also a Tale of NY Islanders fans

On one hand, they have gotten into the 2nd round of the playoffs finally. One the other hand, they had a very mixed season that was marred by offensive outages, some bristling by players on coaching style, and a complete regression on possession play/scoring chances.

One one hand, they lose all 3 UFA’s, having a warning from a year ago come to full fruition. On the other hand, despite depending on the UFA period, which has been unreliable in the past, they are able to snag Andrew Ladd, PA Parenteau and Jason Chimera to offset that loss.

One one hand, despite the ugly battle with Nassau County and leaving the Coliseum, they landed close-by in Brooklyn as opposed to out of the area.

You get the idea.

Now we get another to add to the mix as Barclay’s and the NY Islanders relationship seems to be stuck in some sort of flux and frustration….

Where the Islanders ownership has been in touch with the NY Mets owners on perhaps having a venue built in Queens, next to CitiField.

This actually has come up before. Back in late April, I was approached by a fellow Isles fan who said the same. In fact, at the time, the Wilpon’s were visiting other hockey venues during the playoffs. That kind of thing really has Charles Wang’s fingerprints all over it. He is close with the Wilpons. However, others say this route is Malkin’s, who also has history here. It is Malkin who has been connected to visiting the Wilpons according to others.

Either way, it denotes a discussion and route there to give the Isles organization a safety net or bargaining chip made some sense. Queens and even Belmont which is borderline Queens… allows the Islanders to remain a New York City team… something that Ledecky and Malkin bought into with their half billion valuation in what they paid.

This is one of the main reasons that the team will not come back to Long Island proper, unfortunately.

The problem is… both rumors really are about purely discussion where just in the past couple of months the Wilpon reality arm: Sterling Equities has begun a process to at least push this concept forward internally. As the Bloomberg piece connected, this is more about leverage in getting Barclay’s to be more open to making changes for their new tenant.

Once this broke, rumors ran rampant. One person cited to me that Barclay’s has already notified the NY Islanders organization that they are opting out. This was immediately checked on and refuted by a longtime NHL source who cited a litany of items stemming from all of this… ((FYI: my notes are in double brackets like this one))

1. Barclays has made no such thing request. ((RE: On opting out. Not to mention, I have heard that their opt-out must be mutual. This has yet to be corroborated by mainstream media, however))

2. ((On Queens)) Have their been discussions in the past? Sure. Recent? No.

3. While anything is possible ($$ talks), until you see a formal filing or state my of intent don’t believe a word. DiBlasio has made it very clear he will not support a sports related expansion of the area (see nycfc).

4. Remember this. IF (huge if) the team ownership decides to leave Brooklyn, being sold to outside interests (eg Quebec, Seattle, etc) is WAY WAY WAY more likely. ((point being made, it’s Brooklyn or bust as likely scenario. Not they are leaving. This is getting misconstrued on the internet and by bloggers))

5. If actually true and plans are not developed and submitted soon (and I have no reason to believe that’s even being discussed) it will take a solid 4-5 years from submission to approvals to construction.

6. Go back to worrying about when/if a trade will be made. This ((aka: Queens)) is a non-story.

This hearkens back to when the NY Post story ran on the bitter acrimony between Barclays and the NY Islanders (a terrible article that never brought the type of specifics that Bloomberg did), Jon Ledecky seemed to laugh off the notion. Anything that will trickle out seems to fall into a filter that has preconceived notions of Brooklyn being a temporary home. Those who work for the Isles organization point to one most important element over all other items…

What will any other place offer that pays the NY Islanders over $52 million per year ongoing?

The Barclays deal is something that other owners in the NHL are amazed at. No other team is PAID guaranteed cash as a tenant yearly.

So it is this question that all other rumors must follow. What can any other place offer to be a feasible option to that deal? THAT is the question. Not discussion. Not loose plans. Not the Wilpon’s checking out other venues. Not the NYRA using hockey talk.


Queens Willets Point has been a junkyard of broken and scrapped plans for decades. They are currently in a review by NY State court on the entire Willets Point Project. The project has been halted for years due to legal wrangling.

Governor Cuomo has wanted to use the area for LaGuardia parking, connecting it to the $4 billion LaGuardia airport overhaul, wanting to place an AirTrain stop to it.


Belmont’s NYRA, according to well-placed sources, has been in negotiations  to return to the private sector. Legislation is now being introduced to re-privatize NYRA. In other words, there are lots of things in motion. The NYRA had never been sold on the Cosmos plan, and is hoping to derive higher stakes and interests. Thus, their overtures to the Isles.

The NYRA board was to revert back private last year, and then again this year. It fell through because Cuomo has threatened to veto it. Cuomo wants to cap the amount of money that would go towards the NYRA. Cuomo has been a thorn in the side to any and all the NYRA’s plan for Belmont, and likely remains so. So any NYRA talks that don’t have Cuomo behind it…. is a problem.


“I wish you to know that you have been the last dream of my soul.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Are you seeing the trouble here yet? The NYRA remains in government control, and is struggling to get back to be a independent profit structure.

Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo and his office loom behind the scenes in both of these rumors as his office seems to want to do something else with both areas.

Until those items are dealt with or settled, any of these rumors should be taken with some salt. It would be fantastic if a venue was to be built in Queens. But I think this seems kind of crazy in this business landscape and area. Same goes for Belmont. There are some items that must bear out much more than just sides talking, overtures or anything else.

The real question is will the media, blogosphere, and fanbase be manipulated once again into a murky drama behind-the-scenes, playing off rumor, innuendo, and back-channel mechanics? Will we once again pay the price in the unclear mechanics that occurs behind the scenes? Haven’t we all learned enough from the wreckage of the Lighthouse Project, the Referendum, Nassau Coliseum and Nassau County?

As we learned the hard way… the emotional guillotine always leaves damaged hopes, dreams and frustration. Are we so willing to take that walk again?

I think it is time to be very wary and conscious to who oils these blades this time. To understand when two sides have issues or need sorting out, that many things will stir from it. That any ownership who had made a half billion valuation commitment will look for any and all options to make sure that they will succeed in the long run. That the media and others will try to play off these items with their own dramatic narratives and assumptions… which is not always in line to the truth of the matter.

That there are complexities and nuances here that make both rumored items a bit shifty or at least questionable on being viable, even if Brooklyn doesn’t feel comfortable in our soul.

In this tale, there are no heroes. Only victims. Caveat Emptor. Buyer beware.


About B.D. Gallof

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