Did a window just open for a return of the Nordiques?
Quebec City has a $370 million arena, built for an NHL team, which sits empty most nights. If anyone wants to bring the Nordiques back they should turn to Brooklyn, not Arizona.
Mikhail Prokhorov, the billionaire owner of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and owner of the NBA's Nets franchise, is looking for an investor to take a stake in both.
Bloomberg reports, since the beginning of January the financial projection being shared with potential investors shows no revenue from the New York Islanders after the 2018-2019 season.
While this may mean nothing, this could be the window anyone looking to bring a team to our provincial capital has been looking for.
The 25-year-deal the Islanders signed to move to Brooklyn, leaving the team's long-time home at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, has an opt-out clause. The deadline is January 1, 2018. Should the Isles exercise their right to leave, the club would be out that summer; if Barclays ownership decides to kick them out, they would have until the summer of 2019 to find a new home.
Based on financial reports, it would be in the best interest of Barclays ownership to opt-out of the unique agreement with the NHL franchise.
Since the team moved to Brooklyn at the start of the 2015-2016 season, its tenure has been poor at best. The average attendance is 12,828, placing it third worst in the NHL (Arizona and Carolina average fewer fans per game). The building was never designed for hockey, leaving many fans with bad or obstructed views and players complaining about sub-par ice quality.
The 25-year lease agreement has the arena's ownership paying the Islanders an average of $53.5 million per year in exchange for control of all business operations, including revenue from ticket and suite, concession and advertising sales.
With the poor attendance, people familiar with the facility's financials told Bloomberg ownership would make more money without the Islanders as a tenant.
So where does this leave a team that won four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980s?
There have been multiple reports new owners Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin have been looking into a new arena, possibly being built near Citi Field (home of the New York Mets) in Queens. The problem is the club's financial track record and falling attendance could make it very hard to obtain any public funding to build a new home.
The team's previous home, The Nassau Coliseum, is set to reopen in the spring following a $260 million face-lift. The arena though has been downsized, now seating 13,000, which while still above the team's average attendance is considered too small for an NHL team. Ledecky and Malkin have also shown no interest in returning.
The other wrinkle in moving back to Nassau, the building is owned by the same group that currently owns the Barclays Center.
With a move back home, and the chance of building a new one looking bleak, the only other option on the table would be relocation, with Quebec City waiting with open arms and the keys to a shiny new arena.