The New York Islanders are planning to move from Nassau Coliseum to Brooklyn and will become the second major sports team to call the new Barclays Center home, officials announced Wednesday.
The Islanders have played at Nassau Coliseum since 1972 and will move to Brooklyn for the 2015-2016 season.
"Who said the rivalry between the Rangers and the Islanders couldn't get bigger? Well it just did," Mayor Bloomberg said.
Pointing out that Brooklyn is geographically part of Long Island, Bloomberg noted the team name would not change.
Islanders owner Charles Wang and Barclays Center majority owner and developer Bruce Ratner joined Bloomberg to make the announcement at the new arena.
Wang had threatened to move the team from the Nassau Coliseum when the team's lease expires in 2015. He presented a plan in 2003 for a privately funded multibillion-dollar development of housing, retail and a new arena on the property, but the proposal foundered amid community opposition.
Wang has complained that the dilapidated building is unsuited for a professional sports franchise.
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration had cited the building for 16 violations of workplace health and safety standards. OSHA said workers had been exposed to asbestos. The areas were not accessible to the general public. It also found inadequately lighted exit routes and other violations.
A statement from SMG, the company that manages the Coliseum for Nassau County, said it would contest the citation. It said the asbestos issues had been remediated.
As recently as April, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Brooklyn might not be a viable destination for the Islanders because it's hard to reach for the team's fan base in Long Island and Queens. However, the team's announcement of a news conference at the Barclays Center trumpeted the fact that it is located "atop one of the largest transportation hubs in New York City ... accessible by 11 subway lines, the Long Island Rail Road, and 11 bus lines."
The Nets moved to Barclays after 35 seasons in New Jersey. Their inaugural season begins Nov. 1 against their Manhattan borough rivals, the Knicks.
While some residents in the shadow of the stadium fear rent and prices may climb with another professional sports team in the neighborhood, others welcomed the move, saying it's a chance for Brooklyn to take center ice.
"Brooklyn's number one now," said Richard Dennis. "Manhattan had its turn in the '80s and '90s. Now it's the 2000s for Brooklyn."