The New York Islanders may have a new home at Willets Point, right next to the Mets’ Citi Field in Queens.
The hockey team now plays at the SHoP-designed Barclays Center, but the 15,700-capacity space is reviled by fans and players alike. Fans have complained of seats with obstructed views (there are 1,500), while players bemoan the low quality of the ice. Home games averaged 13,626 fans, the third lowest turnout in the league. Frank Gehry’s proposal had a greater capacity and better sightlines for hockey games, but the scheme was scrapped amid cost-cutting.
The team moved to the Barclay’s Center after its former owner wasn’t able to secure public funding to build a new arena on the site of the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders’ home. The team has been discussing a move for months; it would put them closer to their Long Island fan base, Bloomberg reports.
The northern Queens neighborhood the Islanders could call home is a potholed warren of chopshops wedged between Flushing Meadows Corona Park and Flushing Creek. The shops that flourish there provide skilled jobs, and its unpaved streets lined with cars in various states of assembly offer an intriguing detour (and great auto parts discounts) for intrepid visitors. But, like all New York spaces that could be developed to produce a higher return on capital, Willets Point will soon be transformed, one way or another. In 2012, Sterling and Related, Hudson Yards’ developer, struck an agreement with the city to convert the neighborhood into a giant soulless shopping mall (uh, retail and entertainment district) to which the Islanders may say YES! YES! YES!