The New York Islanders have been Long Island’s lone professional sports team since 1977, but in three years that will no longer be the case, as team officials last month announced a move to Brooklyn in three years. The announcement came as a surprise to some Islanders fans in Valley Stream, but others saw the move coming long before the announcement.
“My initial reaction was complete shock,” said Phillip Ferro, a Valley Stream resident for 33 years and longtime Islanders fan. “The thought of the team possibly moving has kind of lingered the past year or two, but deep down, I thought that something would get worked out.
“I also hadn’t heard any rumors of a move, so I was really kind of blindsided by it,” he added.
Islanders officials have threatened for years to move out of Nassau Coliseum, their home since 1972, when their lease expires following the 2014-15 season if a new facility isn’t built. Last year, Nassau County voters defeated a referendum that would have publicly financed a new arena. In the months following the referendum vote, team owner Charles Wang made it clear that he would explore all options with respect to the future of the Islanders, and ultimately decided to move to Brooklyn.
“The announcement did not surprise me one bit,” said Chris DeVoe, a Valley Stream resident for the past eight years. “I’m glad they had the opportunity to stay in New York and somewhat local.”
Valley Stream resident, Islanders fan and current Village Treasurer Michael Fox said the move could potentially help the team be more successful in the coming years by attracting free agents, but he’s just happy they’re staying in the area.
“My initial reaction was relief,” he said of the news. “I had already accepted that they were not staying in Nassau, so I was happy to find out that they weren’t moving further away to Las Vegas or Quebec, or any of the other rumored locations.”
Ferro, who is an Islanders season ticket holder at Nassau Coliseum, said that when the team moves to Brooklyn, getting to games might be difficult. “I’m sure I will still go to a handful of games on weekends, but it will just be too much of a hassle to go on a regular basis now,” he said. “Unfortunately, I will be giving up my seats.”
Fox said he plans on attending the same number of games once the team moves to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn because it is accessible by the Long Island Rail Road. “The train ride from Valley Stream to Atlantic Terminal (Brooklyn) may even be more enjoyable than traffic on Peninsula Boulevard,” he said.
DeVoe cited local elected officials as a reason why the Islanders have decided to leave the county. “As an Islanders fan I couldn’t be happier,” he said. “As a Nassau County resident, I’m scared to see what the future holds.”
Ferro said the county is going to have a difficult time making up the money the Islanders generate each year when the team moves. “Our politicians failed us when they shot down the Lighthouse Project,” he said, referring to Wang’s proposal to develop Nassau Coliseum and the surrounding area, “and then the people of Nassau County were guilty of having tunnel vision when they voted down the proposal last August.
“Maybe it will be a good thing for the organization in the long run,” Ferro added, “but I have little doubt that this will go down as a failure of epic proportions as far as the county is concerned.”