Nets welcome Islanders to Barclays Center

Bruce Bennett

The ownership of Barclays Center --which is also the ownership of the Nets and the Nassau Coliseum renovation team-- is about cross-marketing on a big scale. They'd like to see more Long Island fans at Nets fans and like to ensure that the Islanders are embraced by Brooklyn while not losing their traditional fans in Nassau and Suffolk.

So on Thursday, the Islanders took the route they hope their fans will start taking in two years. "Take the Train to the Game," read the signs in Garden City as the Isles boarded the 8:51 a.m. LIRR train bound for Brooklyn. They opened their training camp on the newly laid Barclays Center ice and pumped the first ever NHL game in Brooklyn, a week from Saturday vs. the Devils. They return to Long Island Friday.

And as always with a Brett Yormark marketing event, there was news: by reconfiguring seating charts at an arena built for basketball, the Barclays Center has increased its capacity to 15,813, competitive with Nassau Coliseum and no longer potentially the smallest in the league Barclays will also add roughly 75 to 100 premium, ice-level seats. Yormark also spoke about preserving the Islanders colors, but as reported, disclosed the team's infrequently used (and much berated) alternative jersey would have black-and-white as dominant color scheme.

Bruce Ratner disclosed architectural renderings for the new Islander locker room under sections 22-25, which he said would be the envy of the NHL. He might have added, like the Nets locker room is the envy of the NBA. There was a cake from Juniors' and a uniform patch for the Devils game. Remember, Yormark and the Nets business operations are now in charge of the Islanders, as if you needed reminding.

Why all this for a move that won't happen for another two seasons? Yormark, Ratner et al know that while it's a way off, they have some work to do to make traditional Islander fans comfortable with a change in culture, from suburban to urban.. (They also have considerable experience in a long build-ups.)

Not everything was perfect. Islander captain John Tavares noted that the ice wasn't NHL game quality and lamented the lack of a locker room yesterday. The scoreboard is off-center. But it was another step for the Islanders and more significantly for the arena team's plans to build ALL their brands in Nassau and Suffolk.

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