Brooklyn’s NHL Failure: Bad Arena Design Main Culprit

The 2008 recession changed the building.

Brooklyn was a major tagline to jokes in the 1940s but Brooklyn became a joke tagline to National Hockey League fans the day the New York Islanders franchise played its first game at the Brooklyn Arena in 2015. The arena was not built for hockey because developer Bruce Ratner had to downsize his plans after the 2008 recession. The building became basketball oriented for Ratner’s National Basketball Association’s Nets and produced thousands of obstructed viewing seats for hockey. The pipes that supply the flooding for ice making were also a problem. Brooklyn should have been a perfect situation. It had a new arena for the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders that came complete with mass transit about 25 miles west of the team’s old Nassau Coliseum home and just a few subway stops from Wall Street money and Manhattan but was unworkable.

Ratner’s horrible hockey marketing, the obstructed seats, the scoreboard that did not hang over the center of the ice, a car promotion instead of seats behind the net, the bad ice were obvious problems. The 25-year iron clad lease that Islanders owner Charles Wang signed with Ratner’s arena management was not iron clad. Wang and Ratner were soon gone. The new Islanders ownership began looking for a new arena site and found one at the Belmont racetrack property which straddles the New York City-Nassau County border. The Belmont property was available after attempts to build other structures on the grounds were rejected by a New York State development agency. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed to get an arena built on the state-owned grounds. Brooklyn has now lost two NHL teams, Red Dutton’s Americans in the 1940s and the Islanders. Dutton’s team never played a game in Brooklyn and was folded in 1946. The Nassau Coliseum is home again until the new Belmont property place opens.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)