By Andrew Wroblewski
Earlier this week several reports have pointed toward the possibility of the New York Islanders returning to Nassau to play in the newly-renovated Coliseum.
A Bloomberg report was published Monday that claimed Brooklyn’s Barclays Center is seeking to rid itself of the National Hockey League franchise, which began playing there at the start of the 2015-2016 season. Prior to that, the Islanders called Nassau Coliseum home for 43 years, from 1972-2015.
Relations between the team and arena brass, including Barclays Center owner Mikhail Prokhorov, have reportedly soured; and the Islanders average home attendance for the current season is 12,828, third worst in the league, edging out league worsts Arizona and Carolina.
According to the Bloomberg report, a financial projection shared with potential investors indicates that the Islanders are not included in revenue plans past the 2018-2019 season, which could indicate that one or both sides are seeking a break.
Reports indicate that the Islanders’ 25-year lease at the Barclays Center does include an opt-out clause that could be utilized by either side following the current season.
In a separate report published by Newsday on Monday, it’s reported that Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano met with Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky last November to discuss a Nassau homecoming for the team.
Mangano later released a statement that said, “There is a path for the Islanders to return to the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.”
The Coliseum has undergone renovations since November 2015, and there are plans for it to reopen on April 5 with a Billy Joel concert. Nassau officials have said that, for hockey games, the renovated Coliseum will be able to seat 13,000, which is short of the pre-renovation capacity of around 16,000. However, an additional 2,000 seats could be added to the Coliseum if need be, according to the Newsday report.
Mangano stated that the decision ultimately “remains with the Islanders.”
But “we believe Long Island fans will make the Islanders successful in the new Coliseum.”
Separately, in a statement issued Tuesday, Town of Huntington Supervisor Anthony Santino said he too is open for an Islanders’ return.
“Recent news reports have raised the possibility of an early termination of the lease agreement that provides for the Islanders hockey team to play NHL games at the Barclays Center,” Santino stated. “In response to these news accounts, I will be reaching out to Mr. Ledecky and [Islanders’ co-owner Scott] Malkin of the Islanders organization to convey my sincere and enthusiastic desire to facilitate the return of the Islanders… to Nassau.”
Santino continued, “The Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty of the early 1980s is part of Long Island’s identity and is among my great sports memories. I stand ready to lend my staff and offices to work towards an exhilarating and triumphant Islanders homecoming.”