New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday morning that the New York Islanders will split their regular-season home games between their current home, the Barclays Center, and their first home, the Nassau Coliseum, over the next three seasons until their new arena in Elmont, NY is completed.
“The Islanders coming back to the Island is like the cherry on the cake because the Island is coming back,” Cuomo said at a press conference housed in the renovated Coliseum.
In total, 12 games will be played at the Coliseum during the 2018-19 season while an even split will come into play during the following two seasons. New York’s new home near Belmont Park is expected to be completed in time for the 2021-22 season.
The Coliseum, which is in Uniondale, NY in Nassau County, served as the Islanders’ first home from 1972-2015 where some of the best sightlines to watch a hockey game were offered. But the arena that became quickly outdated was never able to receive the necessary updates that an NHL-caliber venue needed, forcing the team to flee to Brooklyn by signing a 25-year lease with the Barclays Center.
While possessed all the bells and whistles of a new arena, was not built for hockey as obstructed-view seating and a basketball-first layout has done little to provide much of a home-ice advantage for the Islanders. The fans have responded by not making the trip out to Brooklyn as the Islanders’ home attendance is ranked dead-last in the NHL, forcing the team and venue to look for a way out of their deal.
Both the Coliseum and Barclays Center are operated by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE), which has made the prospect of splitting time between the two arenas that much more feasible. Along with countless Islanders fans, it’s clear that BSE CEO Brett Yormark is done with the Islanders in Brooklyn.
“If the team wants to play more than half their games here, we encourage it and welcome them back,” Yormark said.
The Coliseum underwent an 18-month, $165 million renovation shortly after the Islanders left, but it was re-developed into more of a concert and special-events venue as it houses just 13,000 fans. The original Coliseum held over 16,000 for NHL games.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was adamant in saying that the Coliseum was not a legitimate option to house the Islanders but after a tour of the facility on Jan. 9, he obviously relented to allowing it to become a temporary home, though there will likely be a move to add temporary seating and updating the locker rooms.