The New York Islanders will play half of their regular season home games at the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum until the team’s new arena is built in Elmont, officials announced Monday.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman approved the unusual move, which will effectively give the Islanders two homes for the next three years—their original Uniondale headquarters and their current home, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“We worked it out,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters and fans during a news conference at NYCB Live, as the coliseum is now called since its recent $165-million renovation. “The coliseum will have some basic accommodations to meet the specifications of the commissioner.”
The announcement came about a month after officials declared that the Islanders won a bid to build a new arena at Belmont Park. But since the new arena won’t be complete until 2021 and the Islanders are opting out of their lease at Barclays in the coming year, they needed a place to play home games in the meantime.
The governor said the coliseum will have to get its ice-making capabilities up to NHL standards, but once it does, the first Islanders home game back at their original home—where they famously won four consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1980s—is expected to be this fall.
The Islanders moved to Brooklyn after Nassau and the team’s prior owners were unable to push through various plans to renovate the county-owned coliseum. The operators of the Barclays Center then won their bid to renovate and operate the coliseum, but the NHL’s Bettman insisted it still wasn’t up to NHL standards as a permanent home for the Islanders. So the team drafted its winning proposal to build a new home in Elmont instead, allowing for a homecoming to LI, just not at its original home.
“Let’s rock the barn,” said Islanders owner Jon Ledecky, rallying fans. He said fans can buy tickets for the coliseum home games by calling 844-33-Isles.