Source: Islanders could play all home games at Nassau Coliseum next two years
The New York Islanders could schedule their entire slate of 2019-20 home games exclusively at the Nassau Coliseum, a source with knowledge of the situation has told Metro New York.
As the organization awaits ground to break on their new arena in Elmont, NY on the same grounds as Belmont Race Track, the chances of the Islanders completely leaving the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning next season stands at a “70/30″ possibility.
When asked, the Islanders denied such a possibility.
The franchise moved to the Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season after 43 years at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. It was a move that lifted the team from a majority of its fan base on Long Island but was vital to keep the franchise in the state after failed attempts to renovate the Coliseum into an NHL-worthy home.
Since the move, the Islanders have been at or near the bottom of the NHL’s attendance list in each of the three-plus seasons they’ve been in Brooklyn. After averaging just over 13,360 fans per night from 2015-2017, the Islanders ranked dead-last in attendance last year with an average of 12,002 fans per night. Through five home games this season, that number has dropped even further to just 10,701.
The lack of success in putting fans in seats saw the Barclays Center express their desire in early 2017 to get the Islanders out of the venue by the end of the 2018-19 season with the belief that they can make more revenue hosting special events such as concerts instead of hockey games.
Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, the co-owners of the Islanders, acted quickly and by the end of 2017, won the bid to build a state-of-the-art arena in Elmont. Due to an environmental review process that began in March of this year, the Islanders will not be able to break ground on their future home until the spring of 2019. That means the arena will not be ready to open until the 2021-22 season.
With pressure from the Barclays Center to get out, the Islanders quickly struck up a deal with the Nassau Coliseum, which was renovated into a smaller, special-events venue after the team left. Both venues are operated by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE).
Beginning on Dec. 1, they will play 21 games this season in Uniondale and 48 more between 2019-2021.
It hasn’t been much of a secret that BSE CEO Brett Yormark wants the Islanders out of Big Apple and back on Long Island, which would make the full-time move back to the Nassau Coliseum advantageous for both sides.
While Yormark would be able to fill the Barclays Center with concerts around the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets schedule, the Islanders would return to an arena beloved by a majority of the fanbase for the next two years that will only help revenue numbers until Belmont’s doors are ready to open.