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Will New York Islanders move mimic Brooklyn Nets?

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Bruce Bennett

The Islanders move to Barclays Center is starting to look a lot like the Nets move, minus the Russians. In business stories about the Islanders' 2015 (or earlier) move, writers have pointed out why the move 22 miles west is motivated by some of the same reasons the Nets moved 13 miles east: money and easy access to population. But the Islanders could also share one of the problems the Nets had, selling tickets while stuck in temporary quarters.

The New York Times points out that while the Islanders don't own their building like the Nets (investors) do, there are big benefits in having more suite revenue. Nassau Coliseum has only 31 luxury suites (IZOD has 29). Barclays Center has 104 and presumably, the Islanders would share in suite revenue since one-fifth of the arena's dates (44 out of 220) would be NHL games. An expert contacted by the Times estimated that those suites would generate about $21 million for the Islanders, while premium seating would generate an additional $33 million. That comes to $54 million from suites and premium seats — $35 million more per year than what the Islanders generate at the Coliseum. That revenue should translate to more talent on the ice, just as it has for the Nets on the court.

Also, with the arena connected to the LIRR's Atlantic Terminal and nine subway lines into Manhattan, the Islanders, if they're good, can attract more of the region's fan base. The big loser? Probably James Dolan's Cablevision, who now has a second professional team in the city competing against its teams...and Cablevision is committed to pay the Islanders nearly a half-billion dollars in local TV rights over the next 20 years, a deal that would have gone away if they had moved outside New York.

Meanwhile, Barclays Center's first taste of professional hockey has once again been postponed. First the Islanders' preseason matchup with the Devils was cancelled due to the NHL lockout. Now, Russia's Kontinental Hockey League has decided to play two regular season games in Russia, rather than Brooklyn. The lockout is basically the reason there too.