While the New York Islanders and New York State were celebrating the victorious bid that will allow the NHL franchise to build a new arena near Belmont Race Track in Elmont, NY, their old home, the Nassau Coliseum, was still in the back of everyone's mind.
At Wednesday's press conference that officially confirmed the Islanders will be headed back to Nassau County, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo provided a glimmer of hope to the fans that are yearning to catch a few more games at the redeveloped "Old Barn."
"[NHL commissioner Gary Bettman] approved this transaction, which we’re very grateful for," Gov. Cuomo said. "We’re now appealing to the commissioner to see if we can get some of the home games at the Nassau Coliseum until the new arena is built."
With ground expected to break on the new Belmont arena this spring, the Islanders will opt out of their 25-year lease with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with their final season at the arena likely coming in 2018-19. However, the Belmont arena might not be able to open its doors until the 2020-21 season, which would leave the team homeless for one season.
That's where the Coliseum comes into play.
The Islanders moved out of their original home following the 2014-15 season, putting an end to a 43-year stay in Uniondale, NY. While it was regarded as the premier place to catch a hockey game in terms of sightlines and noise levels (thanks to a low ceiling that made the venue literally rock when big goals were scored), the Coliseum saw few updates since its doors opened in 1972.
Former majority owner Charles Wang attempted to revamp the entire area on Hempstead Turnpike with the Lighthouse project. But opposition from politicians and residents ensured the updates never happened, forcing the team to search for greener pastures.
The Barclays Center was the greenest pasture available, though the partnership between the venue and the Islanders wasn't a prosperous one.
Upon their departure, the Coliseum underwent extensive renovations and re-opened its doors in April, billed as a top-tier concert venue. However, a return by the NHL franchise seemed like a pipe dream considering the arena now only holds around 13,000 patrons, more than 3,000 less than the original.
Bettman offered no real idea whether a temporary return to the Coliseum was possible, though he did take a moment to appeal to recording artist and Long Island native Billy Joel, who regularly sells out Madison Square Garden every month.
"If I think about letting the Islanders play some games at Nassau Coliseum, Gov. Cuomo should think about letting Billy Joel open the new arena."
That seems like a no-brainer to Islanders fans.