Posts Tagged ‘NHL Relocation’

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

A group of local lawmakers is proposing the New York Islanders return to Nassau Coliseum, the barn which the team called home for more than 40 seasons before it uprooted for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.

Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers will hold a press conference Friday, urging the firm redeveloping Nassau Coliseum to make the required upgrades needed for the Islanders’ return.

“We have been assured by (developer) Nassau Events Center that they are very willing to make necessary modifications to accommodate an NHL team,” Nassau lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Islanders’ ownership, according to Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach of Newsday.

Seating capacity was a primary concern why the Islanders left Nassau Coliseum, a 1971-built arena that had 16,170 seats. The ongoing renovation has reduced it to 13,000. The Winnipeg Jets are home to the NHL’s smallest arena by seating capacity, coming in at 15,294.

In a statement to Newsday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Nassau Coliseum is not a “suitable option” for the Islanders.

However, the move to Brooklyn has not been without its own concerns, as the arena was initially built for basketball, leaving many seats with an obstructed view of the Islanders’ ice surface.

The Islanders have a 25-year lease at Barclays Center, but can opt out of the agreement as early as 2018. In April, the team submitted a request for proposal to build a new arena at Belmont Park in Nassau County.

While the location of the team’s future home remains uncertain, the Islanders will play at least one more game at Nassau Coliseum, as it was announced last month that the arena will host a preseason game next season between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers.

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Naheed Nenshi wants Brian Burke to stop riling people up.

“Don’t try to make headlines,” Calgary’s mayor told the Calgary Sun’s Rick Bell when asked if he had any advice for the Flames president of hockey operations Thursday. “Don’t try to inflame people.”

Nenshi was critical of several comments the Flames‘ president of hockey operations made at a public speaking engagement Wednesday, including Burke’s soft threat of relocation if the hockey club doesn’t get a new facility and the executive’s comparison of the Flames’ plight to the Edmonton Oilers‘ arena situation.

The mayor says he saw right through what he believes Burke was trying to do.

“Seriously, it’s the script,” Nenshi said. “We’ve seen this movie before. The point is we need a different ending here in Calgary.”

The Oilers moved into their new arena, Rogers Place, last fall, and that building was constructed with more public money than Nenshi wants used on any future Flames facility.

“I want it to end in something that doesn’t look like Edmonton, that is a deal where any public money is very clear and it absolutely leads to public benefit,” the mayor said.

He added, “(The Oilers) had a very different situation. They had a derelict part of their city. They hadn’t had a skyscraper built in the downtown in who knows how long. They needed to try and really revitalize their downtown. We are a completely different environment. To ask for that deal in a completely different environment isn’t going to fly with taxpayers. It can’t just be, ‘Give us the deal the guys up the road got.'”

Flames president and CEO Ken King was quick to engage in damage control Wednesday, addressing Burke’s comments with a brief statement insisting Burke “is not our spokesperson regarding a new events center for our city.”

Calgary’s Scotiabank Saddledome is the oldest arena in the NHL that hasn’t undergone extensive renovations, having opened in 1983.

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There’s no need to back up the moving vans.

That’s because the Calgary Flames won’t load up their pucks and sticks for a relocation to La Belle province, Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume told Eva Ferguson of the Calgary Herald.

“It’s a negotiating strategy. We’re used to it,” Labeaume said Thursday. “Everyone is calm, the Flames will not come to Quebec.”

The quote from the mayor came one day after Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke said the team could leave Calgary if it doesn’t get a new arena. Burke doubled down on the stance of Flames CEO Ken King, who in April stated the team wouldn’t just threaten to move, but would simply leave if a new facility in Calgary didn’t come to fruition.

Since 1983, the Flames have played out of Scotiabank Saddledome, which will become the NHL’s oldest arena next season (1968-built Madison Square Garden underwent a $1-billion revitalization in 2013). Two years ago, the Flames launched CalgaryNEXT, an $890-million proposal that includes a new arena for the Flames and a new fieldhouse for the CFL’s Stampeders. Both entities are owned by Calgary Sports and Entertainment.

Speaking before the Canadian Club of Calgary on Wednesday, Burke likened the Flames’ need for a new arena to that of their rival Edmonton Oilers, who this season cut the ribbon on Rogers Place. The Oilers’ arena broke ground in 2014, after owner Daryl Katz floated the possibility of moving the team to Seattle if Edmonton would not agree to build a new home for the hockey team.

The Oilers’ arena cost $480 million, largely funded through public sources. The Flames have proposed a similar arrangement with the City of Calgary, with $200 million paid by the team, with additional funds generated through ticket surcharges. Public funds would cover the remainder of the project costs.

If King, and now Burke, are to be believed, the Flames could leave Calgary if the city balks at a new arena. Questioned by a luncheon attendee about where the Flames could relocate to, Burke responded, “You don’t think we could find a place to go? With a straight face you’re saying that? Quebec. Let’s see, they have a brand new building that meets NHL standards.”

The Quebec capital recently unveiled the NHL-ready Videotron Centre, a facility with 18,000-plus seats that opened its doors in 2015. The arena cost $370 million and was funded entirely by city and provincial taxpayers.

Quebecor Inc. also submitted a bid as part of the NHL’s recent expansion process in hopes of landing a franchise for Quebec City, but was ultimately unsuccessful, with the league choosing to add a team in Las Vegas. Quebec City has not been home to the NHL since the Nordiques uprooted for Colorado in 1995.

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The New York Islanders might be zeroing in on a new home.

The club intends to file a bid with the state to construct a new arena at Belmont Park, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed Friday.

“Yes, there is a (request for proposal) for Belmont and I know they are going to participate in that,” Bettman told a group from The Associated Press Sports Editors, according to Newsday’s Mike Rose, Jim Baumbach, and Robert Brodsky.

As he’s said before, Bettman made it clear Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky are “reviewing their options” – another of which is the land next to Citi Field, home of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets, in Willets Point.

“I believe that everyone thinks there is a terrific opportunity there, if not at Willets Point, to create a more hockey-friendly environment for the Islanders, which is something Scott is committed to do,” Bettman said.

The NHL club has been talking with the Mets’ owners about collaborating on the potential development, sources told Newsday.

Belmont Park has been on the Islanders’ radar for months, as Newsday reported in July.

A deadline is nearing for the team and Barclays Center officials to begin renegotiating their license agreement. That renegotiation period must happen before either side can opt out of the pact in January.

The Islanders have been exploring alternatives to the current arena due to its well-documented lackluster ice conditions, poor sightlines, and the difficult commute it requires for many of the team’s fans on Long Island.

A report from Chris Botta in October claimed Barclays Center’s piping system doesn’t meet NHL requirements, and Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick reported in January that arena officials were looking at terminating their agreement with the Islanders.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Phoenix Coyotes

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is asking the Arizona Legislature to pass a bill – Senate Bill 1149 – that would provide public funds for a new arena for the Coyotes.

In a letter submitted Tuesday, Bettman maintained the Greater Phoenix region represents a “strong hockey market which we are proud to have included in the NHL.” At the same time, however, the current home arena situation is untenable at best.

Bettman wrote:

The Coyotes current location in Glendale at Gila River Arena is not economically capable of supporting a successful NHL franchise. For the past 15 years a succession of ownership groups have have tried everything imaginable to make the Glendale location financial sustainable. Our combined efforts have all yielded the same result – a consistent economic loss.

The simple truth: The Arizona Coyotes must have a new arena location to succeed. The Coyotes cannot and will not remain in Glendale.

On Feb. 3, Arizona State University pulled the plug on a proposed new home for the Coyotes in Tempe.

The passing of Bill SB 1149 would open up $225 million in public funds for a $395-million arena project in the East Valley area of Phoenix.

In the meantime, the Coyotes remain on a year-to-year lease at Gila River Arena.

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The Coyotes are committed to Arizona.

That was the message from co-owner Anthony LeBlanc, who also serves as team president and CEO, on Thursday.

LeBlanc was responding to a local report that team officials had recently scouted Seattle’s KeyArena and Portland’s Moda Center, foreshadowing a relocation to the Pacific Northwest.

“It couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is 100 percent false,” LeBlanc told the “Doug and Wolf” show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “There is absolutely no facts whatsoever in that story.”

The Coyotes’ search for a new arena was back on the front burner Friday after Arizona State University announced it would not go forward with a proposal to build a new facility at its Tempe campus.

But the Coyotes aren’t without other opportunities for a new home in the Valley of the Sun.

“The good news for us, as we’ve said over the past year, is we have a number of options. (Phoenix) mayor Greg Stanton has been incredibly forthright in his statements that he’d like to see us downtown, and that’s something we’re very interested in,” added LeBlanc, who also described a site in nearby Mesa as “intriguing.”

In the meantime, the Coyotes believe their current home in Glendale is only a short-term option.

“The decision to build the facility in Glendale was prior to our ownership group. The honest answer is it was a mistake. It was the wrong location for this franchise,” LeBlanc said. “We’re OK staying in Glendale if we know that there is certainty of a new facility coming online and shovels in the ground.”

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Build it and they will come.

That seems to be the approach of Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy, who proposed that his state invests $250 million to renovate the XL Center – the former home of the Hartford Whalers – in an effort to return the NHL to the state capital.

Partial funding for the proposed project was included in Wednesday’s state budget announcement. The project would add a second concourse to the XL Center and increase its seating capacity from the current number of 14,750.

Connecticut made headlines on Friday when Malloy and Hartford mayor Luke Bronin offered use of the city-owned facility to the New York Islanders after it was reported the Brooklyn club may need to vacate Barclays Center following the 2018-19 season.

The XL Center was home to the Whalers until 1997, when the NHL franchise uprooted for Raleigh and became the Carolina Hurricanes. The arena currently houses the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, the minor-league affiliate of the New York Rangers.