by John Furgele
Newsday is reporting that the New York Islanders will be play a 2009-2010 pre-season game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The Sprint Center opened in October, 2006, an 18,000 seat arena that is looking for a NBA or NHL tenant. The Islanders have called the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum home since they entered the league in the 1972-1973 season. Owner Charles Wang has plans to develop the area around the NC with stores, boutiques, restaurants in addition to building a new playpen for the Islanders, who won four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1980-1983.
The Islanders lease at the NC is a bad one, and Wang, founder of Computer Associates reports that the Islanders lose $20 million per year playing in Uniondale. Negotiations have stalled and with the economy in tatters, there won’t be any new arena—or other development—on this part of Long Island for quite some time.
The Islanders have the worst record in the NHL but a storied history. Players like Bossy, Trottier, Gillies, Nystrom, Bourne, Smith and Potvin are synonymous with championships. Their legendary games with the rival New York Rangers still rev up the faithful, even in a long 82 game season.
But, does the New York area need three NHL teams? More importantly, can they support three? Even with a brand new arena, Devils attendance has never been great. The Rangers do well, because they play in Manhattan at the famed Madison Square Garden. Perhaps the Islanders are just part of a market correction and no longer can fit in a crowded New York sports landscape.
The New Jersey Nets are planning to move to Brooklyn, but plans for an arena/development project have also stalled. Rumors persist that eventually the Nets will move north to Newark and share the Prudential Center with the hockey Devils. But, could there be a surprise?
The ABA New York Nets played and shared the NC with the Islanders back in the 1970s, winning ABA titles in 1974 and 1976 with Julius Erving as their star. Maybe, just maybe, Long Island could woo the Nets back home, build a new arena and keep professional sports on Long Island.
But, that could be too late. The Kansas City Tornadoes are ready to take the ice.