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Brooklyn Shouldn’t be a Sports Graveyard

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Pyrotechnics light up the arena before the start of a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The owners of the New York Islanders, Brooklyn Nets and the Brooklyn arena are in negotiations trying to come up with a deal that could allow the Islanders franchise to stay in Brooklyn until the hockey team’s new building is done at the Belmont racetrack site, which is 20 miles east of the Brooklyn arena, in 2020.

The talks should be interesting as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be watching closely, along with New York taxpayers who have paid hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to support the construction of the arena and surrounding development. The arena seems to be a money loser and might be up for sale. The building which opened in 2012 has already changed hands.

Brooklyn has a major league population and Manhattan’s corporate money is nearby, but a bad venue design along with an incompetent arena management sunk the Islanders. The arena when originally envisioned was a multi-use building for basketball, hockey and every other arena act.

Bruce Ratner, the then New Jersey Nets owner who was trying to build the place without a full array of public money ran out of private cash and changed the building’s design. His NBA moved in after years of delays. The building has a terrible hockey design. Ratner would sell his share of his Brooklyn Nets, his building and his development rights to renovate the Islanders old Nassau Coliseum home. The Islanders ownership, the NHL and the present Brooklyn arena group may have Cuomo looming over them during the lease extension talks as Cuomo wants the Islanders to play a few games at the Nassau Coliseum.

Baseball’s Dodgers departed in 1957. The NFL last game played in Brooklyn was  in 1945, and a planned NHL Brooklyn arena never was built in the 1940s. The NBA team along with boxing and concerts remain in what should have been a great market. Brooklyn should not be a sports graveyard.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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