PROSPECT HEIGHTS (AP) — Developer Bruce Ratner believes his state-of-the-art Barclays Center can hold hockey for more than just a passing game or two.
Ratner is hopeful of corralling a National Hockey League team as a permanent tenant in the building, perhaps even the New York Islanders, who are looking for a new home. In fact, the arena already has ice and locker rooms for both basketball and hockey.
Barclays Center "was made for hockey and basketball," Ratner told the Associated Press. "It could easily support a hockey team."
"It holds 14,500 for hockey," Ratner said.
The Islanders announced in January that they will play the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game at Barclays on Sept. 28.
The Islanders' lease at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale expires following the 2014-15 season. Team owner Charles Wang and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have been adamant that the Islanders will not play in the Coliseum after that point, although both have reiterated their desire to keep the Islanders in the New York City area.
The Coliseum, whose rafters are hung with the Islanders' four Stanley Cup championship banners, is the second oldest active arena in the NHL, next to the recently renovated Madison Square Garden, home of the New York Rangers.
Nassau County residents voted down a proposal that would allow the county to earmark $400 million in public funds for building a new Nassau Coliseum last August. And Wang's Lighthouse Project aimed at a new arena, which would have been privately funded, never made it past the proposal stage.
Bettman is hopeful the Islanders can stay on Long Island, one way or the other. Though, he is open to change, if needed. Last week, in a meeting with the Associated Press sports editors, he approached the topic.
"Barclays, I suppose," he said, "on some level, is an option."
But he also stuck to his stance that a franchise with plenty of history and tradition — four Cups, five conference titles and six division crowns — should stay on Long Island. The Islanders finished the regular season at 34-37-11, and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
"We're going to do everything possible to figure out a way to make this work here," Bettman said. "And if we're unsuccessful at some point, then we'd have to consider the (relocation) options.
"But we're not anywhere near that."