Jim Baumbach of Newsday is reporting that the New York Islanders are approaching a deal that would see them play a number of home games at the Nassau Coliseum while their new arena at Belmont Park is being built.
The Islanders would not play all of their home games at their old arena, splitting time with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. New York played at the Coliseum in Uniondale from 1972-2015 before moving the Brooklyn.
Once an agreement with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment — the company that owns both the Coliseum and Barclays Center — is reached, then the distribution of games between the venues will be figured out.
It hasn’t been much of a secret that the Islanders wanted to make a temporary return to the Coliseum, which underwent cosmetic renovations shortly after they left. However, it holds just 13,000 fans for hockey, which is not ideal for NHL attendance figures. Granted, fan turnout at the Barclays Center has been poor since the team arrived for the 2015-16 season, ranking at or near the bottom of league attendance numbers.
On Dec. 20 at a press conference naming the Islanders the winner of the Belmont bid, New York State governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he submitted a bid to the NHL to have the Islanders play their home games at the Nassau Coliseum.
While NHL commissioner Gary Bettman previously stated that the Coliseum wasn’t a viable option to house the Islanders, he took a tour of the arena on Jan. 9 with Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormak to see just how legitimate an option the venue could be.
Ground for the Islanders’ new Belmont arena is not expected to be broken until at least March of 2019 after a mandatory environmental review process is carried out. That would put the arena’s prospective completion date on track for the start of the 2020-21 season, meaning the Islanders could be playing at the Coliseum for at least two seasons.