The deal to move the Nets to Brooklyn was a high-profile, high-stakes battle that played out in front of the public. The NHL’s New York Islanders, however, seem to have signed on overnight, and will call Barclays Center home beginning in 2015.
Now, after half a century without professional sports in Brooklyn, we have two major franchise teams and a brand-spankin’-new sports arena.
The Islanders deal became public yesterday, first from a few news outlets citing “sources,” and then from the grand poobah of Brooklyn cheerleaders, Borough President Marty Markowitz.
“Today is another great day for Brooklyn,” Markowitz said in a statement. “When I first campaigned for borough president, I made the promise that I would bring a major league sports team to Brooklyn. But never, in my wildest dreams, did I think we would be home to both the Brooklyn Nets and the New York Islanders. It won’t be a long journey for the Islanders; after all, Brooklyn is where Long Island begins, and Nassau County is just a short Zamboni ride away from the big stage of Brooklyn and the Barclays Center. With the Nets and the Islanders, Brooklyn is beginning a dominant power play.”
Cue the grumbling. Right when complaints about traffic and parking around Barclays seems to have fizzled, the Islanders present a whole new challenge: suburbanites!
“An Arena in Brooklyn Faces Suburban Traffic Test” declares the Wall Street Journal:
Sam Schwartz, the engineer who prepared traffic plans for arena developer Bruce Ratner, sought to reassure local elected officials in the months before the arena opened that the vast majority of concertgoers and sports fans would travel via mass transit. It was an assumption based on studies projecting that fans of the Brooklyn Nets, the basketball team that relocated from New Jersey, would hail from Brooklyn and Manhattan.
… But those projections didn’t account for the arrival of the Islanders, a team whose fans hail from car-centric suburbs.
There are other concerns, of course. One is simply cultural. Do we want Brooklyn to become a “bro-town” with subway cars and local streets packed with jersey-donning drunks, blowing out their terrorist fist jabs and singing Chumbawamba hits? I don’t. I spent four years in New Jersey, and I’m so over that.