The earlier unconfirmed reports turned out to be true. The New York Islanders will be returning to Nassau Coliseum part-time for three seasons while their new home is being built at Belmont Park in Elmont. During that time, they will be splitting games between the Coliseum and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced at a news conference at the Coliseum on Monday, roughly a month after unveiling the team’s return to Long Island, that the Isles will play 60 games at the newly renovated Coliseum over the next three seasons. This will include 12 regular-season games next year and 48 in the following two seasons.
National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and Islanders owner Jon Ledecky had previously rejected the idea of the team returning to the Coliseum, but according to Cuomo, they reached a compromise.
The team’s lease agreement at its current home, the Barclays Center, will expire at the end of the 2018-19 season. The Islanders have had continuing issues with the complex, including a lack of luxury boxes, so continuing to play there was deemed undesirable. The Belmont Park arena is expected to be completed by the team’s 2021 season.
The decision to have the team play at the Coliseum was made with the Islanders’ fan base in mind, said Brett Yormark, the CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Barclays Center and Coliseum. He added, “If the team wants to play more than just half of their games here, we look forward to it and welcome them back.”
The Islanders’ return to the Coliseum comes at a pivotal point, Cuomo said, adding, “Their coming home is, in many ways, a sense of the revitalization of Long Island.”
East Meadow Chamber of Commerce President Frank Camarano offered a similar sentiment. Not only did news of the Islanders’ return excite him as a fan, but also as a business leader, he said.
“It brings heart back into the Coliseum,” Camarano added. “And I think it’s a great thing, too, because it’s going to invigorate the area. It’s going to bring excitement. It’s going to generate more commerce than the Coliseum’s opening did alone.”
Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin weighed in on the economic impact of the Islanders’ return, calculating that it would generate almost $20 million annually in on-site revenue, according to a news release from his office. This includes parking, food, souvenirs and ticket sales, which he concluded could alone yield $12.5 million.
According to Ledecky, the Islanders owner, 750 local fans traveled to Las Vegas on Jan. 25 when the team defeated the Golden Knights. When fans approached him, he noted, they had one question: “I heard that the Islanders might be returning to the barn. How do I get tickets?”
To secure tickets to the Islanders’ first games at the Coliseum, call (844) 334-7537.