Bloomberg Sports reports that the Islanders and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, Mikhail Prokhorov’s holding company, have agreed to have the NHL club split their season between Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum.
The Coliseum, which went through a two-year $180 million renovation, had been home to the Islanders for three decades before they moved to Brooklyn in 2015, which has been a disaster, both on the ice and on the bottom line, with low attendance, obstructed seats, poor playing conditions.
Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams report...
The New York Islanders will play 12 home games next season at the renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, rekindling ties with Long Island fans ahead of a move back from Brooklyn, according to people familiar with the matter.
The remaining 29 matchups will be played at the Islanders’ home of the past three years, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. Both venues are owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.
If the Coliseum games are successful, the team could split time evenly between Barclays and Nassau in the following seasons until construction is completed on the Islanders’ new home in Elmont, New York, the people said. An announcement with Governor Andrew Cuomo is likely to be made on Monday, they said.
There’s not firm date for the move to Belmont and there are several steps needed before any construction can begin, including an environmental review. Also, residents near the race track are threatening lawsuits to thwart the move. Unlike Barclays Center, however, there is no need for complicated and time-consuming eminent domain proceedings.
Even the most optimistic timetable has the Belmont arena completed for the 2021-22 season. Also, one of the most alluring aspects of the move, the construction of an LIRR station at Belmont was called into question this week.
The NHL has consistently said it would not approve a permanent move back to Nassau, mainly because the renovated arena can sit only 13,500 for hockey games and has a limited number of revenue-producing suites. However, the Islanders attendance at Barclays, worst in the NHL, is averaging 12,059.
For Prokhorov, the move permits Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to dump the Islanders at Barclays, where it’s a big money loser, and to help Nassau, which other than the G-League Long Island Nets, has no anchor tenant.
For the Islanders, however, most pundits think the split season mechanism, with no set end date, could be a disaster for the team. Larry Brooks, the Post hockey writer summed it up this way earlier this week...
Which opponents where? Rangers in Brooklyn or Uniondale? Split homestands or alternate months? What about the playoffs, if there are playoffs? Will split-season subscriptions be offered? Isn’t it more likely than not that Long Island residents will pack the Coliseum and abandon Barclays? What will the impact be on the league’s hockey-related revenue that establishes the salary cap?
Worst-case scenario: It is a fiasco.Best-case scenario: It is a logistical nightmare.
And of course for the fans, it has to look like another questionable move for what was once the NHL’s showcase franchise.
- Islanders Are Said to Return to Nassau Coliseum for 12 Games - Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams - Bloomberg Sports