He will have to wait a few years to finally see his team hit the ice in the intimate building that is expected to hold between 14,500 and 15,000 for hockey. Wang said he has no intention of trying to get out of his Long Island lease early.
Once the Islanders settle into Brooklyn, they will begin a 25-year lease at the Barclays Center.
"The Islanders, I believe, will be strengthened because they were playing in an inadequate facility, and the fan experience here will be much better," Bettman said. "If a franchise is strengthened, that's good for everybody."
And the NHL is certainly looking for any positive news it can get as the 39-day old lockout casts a pall over the hockey world. Bettman couldn't avoid questions about the seemingly imminent announcement that regular-season games will be canceled for good.
Bettman set a deadline of Thursday for a new collective bargaining agreement to be reached with the players' association that would allow for a full 82-game season to be played beginning on Nov. 2. With no negotiations scheduled, and a divide between the sides seemingly growing wider, Bettman conceded that a shortened season is the most likely scenario.
"It looks like the 82-game season is not going to be a reality," the commissioner said
Officials in nearby Nassau County, N.Y., have struggled for years to come up with a plan to either renovate or build a new arena to replace the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which opened in 1972. Wang, the founder of a computer software company, 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 had long threatened to move the team from its home in Uniondale after the club's lease expired. He complained that the dilapidated building is unsuited for a professional sports franchise.
"I am disappointed, too, but we're here, we're home," Wang said of the decision to leave Long Island. "It's a new place and it's only 35 minutes away by train. Come and join us and see hockey.
"I think fans want a good experience. It's not just about watching hockey it's also the whole ambience of coming to a place where you can get good food and you can see. We have Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn fans. Westchester might be a little bit harder, but we have them all over the tri-state area."
The Barclays deal took seven months to complete and was finished Tuesday night, according to Wang.
"Brooklyn is big time and now we have the big-league sports to prove it," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
As recently as April, 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."
"It took us 25 minutes to get here today," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "We didn't turn our back (on fans). This announcement has shown that the key is that we stayed local and we got a first-class facility. We're happy that our fans are still able to come and watch us play as the New York Islanders."
Last year, voters overwhelmingly rejected a referendum — backed by Wang — that would have allowed Nassau County to borrow $400 million to build a new hockey arena. Earlier this year, county officials announced they were seeking proposals to open the 77-acre parcel to any developer interested in proposing new ideas for the site. An announcement on those proposals was expected to be released any day.
County Executive Edward Mangano backed the referendum as a way of keeping the hockey team from leaving, along with spurring economic development and job growth. In a statement, Mangano said an economic team will be formed to redevelop the area around the old arena. He didn't specifically comment on the Islanders.