The Nets ownership is increasingly interwoven with the Islanders. They don't own any equity stake in Charles Wang's rising NHL team, but the Bruce Ratner - Mikhail Prokhorov combination will be the Islanders landlords in Brooklyn and have taken over the business operations of the Islanders as well. Moreover, arena ownership wants the contract to renovate Nassau Coliseum -- and believe they have an advantage over the competition, including Madison Square Garden, in that the Islanders have agreed to play six games in the new Coliseum if the Barclays Center team wins.
Could MSG, that is the Rangers, stop them? "Sources" talking to the Post and ESPN claim they can. Ratner disagrees. Actually, things are beginning to get a little dicey between MSG and BC. The Post and ESPN report that the NHL and the Rangers would have to approve any games played outside the home ice of Barclays Center. "He made a promise that is not 100 percent in his hands," according to a "person familiar with the situation" quoted by ESPN New York.
In an interview on Bloomberg News Friday, Ratner dismissed the reports with just a touch of anger, When asked don't the NHL and the Rangers have to approve it, Ratner responded, "the NHL has to approve it," pointedly not mentioning the Rangers. "Given the fact that the team has been there before, the fans are going to want it, I'm sure they'll approve it." he added.
Indeed, the owners of Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center are increasingly finding themselves pitted against each other, unlike the past when the Knicks supported Ratner and then Prokhorov's plan to move the Nets to Brooklyn. Any talk of real competition has been dismissed diplomatically. MSG has always (publicly) met such questions with, "The Garden is the Garden," while Barclays Center officials have always noted there's plenty of room in the region for both. But diplomacy could be tested by the competing bids for Nassau Coliseum.
Brett Yormark chipped in with a tweet on Saturday afternoon, again noting the fans interest in getting the remote dates approved.
Islanders fans want six games at renovated coliseum. Fans have been very vocal on blogs. Ratner plan will deliver them.— Brett Yormark (@brettyormark) May 18, 2013
With the two sides now battling for NBA and NHL revenues, concert dates and now the contract to renovate the Coliseum , expect less diplomacy and more cutthroat competition off the court (and ice) as well as on.
- Sources: Battle over Isles brewing - Katie Strang - ESPN
- Bruce Ratner Interview (Video) - Tom Keene, Sara Eisen and Scarlet Fu - Bloomberg TV
Ratner's Islanders plan unprecedented for NHL - Robert Brodsky & Steve Zipay - Newsday