Nassau and Suffolk county lawmakers are teaming up in their call for the NHL’s New York Islanders to once again make the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale their home ice.
The renewed calls for Long Island’s only major league sports team to return to its original home come after reports that the team is planning to move from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, where it moved two years ago. The team is pitching a new arena at Belmont Park in Elmont.
“Home is where we are at our best,” said Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the legislature’s Democratic minority leader, told reporters Friday during a news conference outside the arena. Referring to the team’s four consecutive Stanley Cup wins in the 1980s, he added: “And where the Islanders are at their best is in this building.”
The lawmakers touted the economic benefits, sense of community and tradition of bringing the Islanders back to the coliseum, which reopened in April after being renovated by Forrest City Ratner, the company that built the Barclays Center.
Since being renovated, concerns arose that there are no longer enough seats and suites and the rink is no longer big enough. But officials said the arena could be adjusted, as long as the Islanders commit to playing a substantial amount of games at the location, which would require NHL approval.
Some Long Island residents aren’t so optimistic about the idea. Long time Islanders fan Charles Razenson doesn’t see a return to the coliseum in sight.
“The coliseum had its chance, and all they did was put lipstick on a pig,” Razenson told the Press. “If the legislators really had intent, they would’ve done it right the first time.”
Despite the negativity, the lawmakers are trying to keep positive about a possible Isles homecoming.
“How many times did we see them defy those odds and do those difficult deeds,” said Suffolk County Legis. William Lindsey (D-Holbrook). “We need to give them the same respect and in our efforts here, with all the naysayers out there saying that this can’t be done, we know it can.”