Posts Tagged ‘nassau coliseum’

The New York Islanders are returning to familiar territory.

On Monday, the club announced it will play 12 home games at Nassau Coliseum next season, with the remainder to be played at Barclays Center, its current home in Brooklyn.

The 2019-20 season will then see the Islanders split their home schedule between the two arenas.

The Islanders previously played out of Nassau Coliseum between their formation in 1972 and their move to Brooklyn in 2015.

However, a host of issues at Barclays Center, including poor ice conditions and a section of seating that offered obstructed views – in addition to a hard-to-reach arena for fans coming from Nassau County – left the team searching for a new home.

In December, the team’s bid was selected to build an arena in Belmont Park, about eight miles west of Nassau Coliseum. The hope is that it will be ready in time for the 2021-22 season.

Nassau Coliseum has undergone extensive renovations since the Islanders left, which reduced seating capacity to 13,000, but the old barn appears to be a temporary solution as the team awaits its new home.

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The New York Islanders are apparently nearing an agreement to play some regular-season games in their old barn while the new one is being built.

Two sources familiar with the situation told Newsday’s Jim Baumbach that the Islanders are closing in on a deal to play a mix of games at Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center in the years leading up to the opening of the new facility at Belmont Park.

It’s not yet clear how the games would be split, but the earliest the Belmont Park arena would be ready is the 2021-22 season, which means the club would need to figure out a temporary solution for three full seasons after this one.

The Islanders are negotiating with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which owns both their current and former homes, and have a deadline of Jan. 30 to opt out of their deal at Barclays Center.

They won the bid to redevelop Belmont Park in December. Earlier this month, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he was open to the possibility of the Islanders playing some games at the Coliseum in the years before their new arena is ready.

Nassau Coliseum recently underwent a $165-million renovation.

The Islanders left it for Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015-16, but have had a host of issues in the new building since, from complaints about sight lines and the iceconditions to the piping system reportedly not meeting NHL standards.

Nassau Coliseum hosted an open house Tuesday, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and New York Islanders majority owner Jon Ledecky toured the recently renovated arena.

The Islanders’ former digs, Nassau Coliseum is considered a possible temporary home as the team’s new arena in nearby Belmont Park breaks ground.

In the meantime, New York will continue to play out of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where it’s called home since 2015. Despite the team signing a 25-year agreement to play at the venue shared with the NBA’s Nets, both the Islanders and arena manager can trigger an opt-out clause at the end of January.

If that should happen, the Islanders would need to find a temporary home following the 2018-19 season.

Nassau Coliseum, built in 1971, has undergone a host of changes since the Islanders left three years ago, including a $165-million renovation that reduced seating capacity by 3,000 to 13,000 for hockey games.

A number of improvements would need to be orchestrated in order for New York to return temporarily. Also at issue is who would fund those changes. Nassau Coliseum is currently owned by Forest City Enterprises, a real estate development firm.

Nassau Coliseum hosted an Islanders preseason game last September.

While the Islanders have played out of Barclays Center for parts of three seasons, a quick exit was initiated after a host of issues were realized, from awful ice conditions to poor sight lines and a tough commute.

The New York Islanders may return to their old stomping grounds before calling Belmont Park home.

While the Islanders’ new arena is being built, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league would entertain the idea of the team playing games at Nassau Coliseum – their home from 1975-2015 – until their new rink is complete.

“I wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility,” Daly told Newsday’s Jim Baumbach via email.

The Islanders have been playing their home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn since the 2015-16 season. The building was intended to be a basketball-only facility, which has caused issues with the ice surface, as well as the sightlines for fans.

Islanders co-owner John Ledecky said they plan to play the 2018-19 season at the Barclays Center, as per their lease. However, where they play for the 2019-20 season and beyond – until the Belmont arena is finished – remains unclear.

The Coliseum re-opened in March 2017 after an 18-month, $165-million renovation.

A spokesperson for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment – the same company that operates both the Barclays Center and the Coliseum – said they have presented the Islanders with a proposal to make the Coliseum their interim home, adding that the company is “prepared to facilitate any necessary enhancements” to the aging arena.

Following the Islanders’ Belmont Park news conference, The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo’s office released the following statement:

“New York State will negotiate with the New York Islanders to ensure they will play as many games as possible at the Nassau Coliseum while the state-of-the-art arena at Belmont is being built, returning the Islanders home to Long Island in the nearest possible future.”

The New York Islanders are all in on Belmont Park.

In September, the Islanders submitted a proposal to build an arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., and the club remains hopeful that the bid will be approved.

“We think we have something that really will galvanize the community in a very positive way,” Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky told Jim Baumbach of Newsday. “It will galvanize the fan base and we think it’s a tremendous opportunity for the Long Island area to have a world-class, really state-of-the-art arena.”

The Islanders have spent the past three seasons at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a 2012-built facility that was originally designed for the NBA’s Nets, meaning great views for basketball fans but poor sight lines on hockey nights.

The Islanders moved to Brooklyn after playing out of the antiquated Nassau Coliseum since 1972. While issues have occurred at the Barclays Center, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has ruled out a return to Long Island.

The Islanders can end their current lease agreement as soon as this offseason, while the Barclays Center has the same option following the 2018-19 campaign.

As for Belmont Park, the Islanders aren’t the only team wanting to build a new stadium at the site. There is also interest from the New York City FC, a Major League Soccer club partially owned by MLB’s Yankees.

There is no timeline for when the Belmont Park proposal will be approved, but Islanders ownership remains hopeful. Ledecky also added a “Plan B” isn’t in place should the Belmont Park plan be unsuccessful, but noted ownership has no intention of leaving New York.

“We want to be crystal clear that we love New York and we love the metro New York area,” Ledecky said. “We want to stay in the New York area and Belmont Park is the place for us.”

In February, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy invited the Islanders to use the XL Center as a temporary, or even permanent, home. The XL Center is owned by the City of Hartford and is the former home of the since-relocated Whalers.

Where the Islanders ultimately play could also be a significant factor in the future plans of captain John Tavares, who can become an unrestricted free agent in July.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Part of the deal between Nassau County and Barclays Center, where the Islanders play now, but which operates the renovated Nassau Coliseum, is that the Islanders either play four regular-season games and two preseason games at their traditional home, or the county gets an extra $1 million in rent.

Because Sunday’s preseason contest between the Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers is the only scheduled NHL action at the Coliseum in 2017-18, Nassau County is getting its extra million bucks.

Sunday’s game also was little more than a tease. Gary Bettman said earlier this month at the Winter Classic press conference that “my gut reaction is it’s not a viable option” for the Islanders to return to an arena that got a $165 million renovation but still has many of the same issues as it did before the Islanders moved to Brooklyn, simultaneously 22 miles and light years away.

John Tavares nearly blew the top off the old barn when he scored his second goal of the game, an overtime winner to give the Islanders a 3-2 verdict. The level of sound in the old barn is the same as ever when the building is full, and the sellout crowd serenaded the Islanders all the way off the ice.

“It was pretty close to what we had in the playoffs,” Tavares said. “It was through the roof coming out in warmups and certainly the start of the game. Hearing the ‘Let’s go Islanders’ chants and the ‘Yes! Yes!’ chants (for goals) were prominent again. This fan base has got a tremendous identity, and they don’t want to lose hold of that. As players, we recognize that, and we want to reward them with good hockey, so this was fun.”

During the break between the third period and overtime, the fans made their opinion known, loudly chanting, “BRING THEM BACK.” The chant rose up again after Tavares’ game-winning goal.

“They certainly wanted to be heard,” Tavares said. “That’s above my pay grade, but I think certainly this place is very meaningful to this organization and the identity of this organization for a reason.”

 

The identity lives on in the Islanders’ logo, which has not changed since the move to Brooklyn. The tip of the “I” in the word “Islanders” points directly to the location of Nassau Coliseum. Keeping the team’s identity exactly the same is one of the reasons the move has felt half-baked for a lot of people, and why a return to Nassau County, even for an afternoon, was priceless.

“It means a lot,” said Matt Mead of Rockville Center, wearing a vintage Dave Scatchard jersey. “It’s kind of sad, because you know we’re going to have to head to Brooklyn after this, so it’s nice to have one little last hurrah here. It’s a good turnout, and I got to see a lot of old friends that I haven’t seen in a while.

“I’m enjoying it. It’s a 30-minute train ride to get to Brooklyn – it’s not that bad, but I miss coming here, tailgating, being with friends and family. Brooklyn’s a little bit of a pain.”

That pain is measurable in the fact that the Islanders ranked 28th in the NHL in attendance last year, at 13,101 per game, 82.9% of capacity in Brooklyn. That was down from an average of 13,626 (86.2%) in the first season in Brooklyn, while the Islanders averaged 15,334 per game, 94.8% of the final-season capacity at the Coliseum.

Sunday’s crowd of 13,917 not only filled the Coliseum, but the parking lot as well. Arriving in the morning, fans set up their tailgates and Islanders flags flew all over.

“I think we had a good sense that was going to happen,” said Tavares, who owns 89 regular-season goals at the Coliseum, plus five in the playoffs. “That was such a great part of Islanders hockey and who the Islanders are, is a lot of weekend afternoon games or evening Saturday home games, people out in the parking lot with a lot of space, just enjoying the atmosphere of what it was to be an Islander fan. It was great that they got to enjoy that again.”

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Gary Bettman doesn’t sound keen on the idea of the New York Islanders returning to their old barn for the long haul.

“I don’t view the Nassau Coliseum as a viable option,” the NHL commissioner said Friday at a press conference announcing next year’s Winter Classic at Citi Field in Queens, N.Y., according to Newsday’s Jim Baumbach and Steve Zipay.

“Ultimately, whether or not the Islanders want to consider that and bring it to the league or something, you’ve had to ask them about it,” Bettman said. “But my gut reaction is it’s not a viable option.”

Nassau lawmakers held a press conference of their own back in July in an attempt to woo the Islanders back to their original arena, even as a temporary solution.

The club will soon submit a proposal for a brand-new facility at Belmont Park. Bettman declined to specifically address that possibility Friday.

“The Islanders have very good options and they’re in the process of evaluating what makes the most sense for the franchise and their fans,” he said.

Bettman did say he believes the New York metro area can support another arena.

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, as it’s officially known, has been renovated over the last couple of years since the club left for Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015.

If officials with the Brooklyn-based facility want to opt out of their 25-year lease, as they’ve reportedly considered, that would have to happen before Jan. 30, according to Newsday.

The Islanders will play a preseason game at Nassau Coliseum on Sept. 17 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but Bettman said Friday he doesn’t think playing additional games there “makes a lot of sense.”

The club has dealt with several issues at Barclays Center, including piping systems that don’t meet NHL requirements and poor sightlines.