NY Islanders Could Return to Nassau Coliseum

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Copyright 2017 Newsday, Inc.

Newsday (New York)


Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano said he has met with New York Islanders owner Jonathan Ledecky to discuss the team's possible return to its former home at Nassau Coliseum.

Mangano said he requested the Nov. 17 meeting with Ledecky, who co-owns the team with Scott Malkin, to discuss a path for the team to return to Nassau. Mangano said he also holds regular meetings with Barclays management.

In a statement, Mangano said "there is a path for the Islanders to return to the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum where the best sight lines in NHL remain, improved attractive facilities for fans and athletes and room to add seats to accommodate the Islanders. While the decision remains with the Islanders we believe Long Island fans will make the Islanders successful in the new Coliseum."

Management of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn - where the Islanders have played the past two seasons - also would "cooperate" if the team wanted to opt out of its 25-year license agreement with the arena, according to sources familiar with the conversations.

The Islanders and Barclays Center each have the ability to opt out of the agreement in January 2018. If the Islanders opt out, they can leave after the 2017-18 season or the 2018-19 season. If Barclays Center opts out, the team has to leave after the 2018-19 season.

Barclays Center owners are spending $130 million to renovate the Coliseum. The overhauled arena will have capacity for 13,000 fans for hockey games, 13,500 for basketball games and more than 14,500 for concerts.

Sources said the Coliseum can be retrofitted at any time to add nearly 2,000 more seats for sports. Before its renovation the Coliseum had about 16,000 seats.

Barclays is the second-smallest arena in the NHL with a capacity of 15,795, including about 1,500 obstructed-view seats.

A Barclays spokeswoman declined to comment Monday. An Islanders spokesman declined to comment.

On Saturday, National Hockey League commissioner Gary Bettman said the new Islanders owners have been "looking very seriously at what their options are" but that they remain "committed to New York and the great fan base that has followed the Islanders."

Players have complained about the quality of the ice surface at Barclays Center, which was not designed with hockey in mind.

Bettman, speaking at the NHL's All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles, said, "There are some issues about playing in Barclays, it may be fundamental to the ice system, and that's not something that can be fixed in the short term."

Newsday reported in July that Islanders owners have had discussions about building a new arena either next to Citi Field in Flushing or at Belmont Racetrack in Elmont.

Barclays officials are encouraging an Islanders return to Nassau, in part, to prevent construction of an arena that would be in direct competition for shows and concerts with the renovated Coliseum, sources said.

Bettman has been critical of Nassau officials and the old arena for years. Last April, he told Newsday, "people tend to over-romanticize the Nassau Coliseum. They tend to think this is the 1970s, early '80s. The fact of the matter is, that arena was not a first-class major-league facility and hadn't been for some time."

An NHL spokesman declined to comment Monday.

Bloomberg reported Monday that a financial document distributed to potential investors in the Barclays Center indicates that the arena is preparing for the departure of the Islanders. The document did not list any revenue generated by the Islanders after the 2018-19 season, according to the story.

A summary of the license agreement obtained by Newsday shows Barclays Center pays the Islanders an annual fee of $53.5 million. However, that amount can be reduced based a on a number of factors, including operating costs of the arena.

The Barclays Center receives all revenue from preseason and regular-season tickets, luxury boxes, concessions, advertising, marketing and radio rights until the total reaches $53.5 million, which the arena fell far short of during the first season.

Barclays Center paid the Islanders $37.5 million after the 2015-16 season, the Islanders' first at the Brooklyn arena, according to a financial disclosure document obtained by Newsday.

Nov. 8, 1971: NHL awards expansion franchise to Roy Boe. The Islanders are to begin play in 1972-73 season at Nassau Coliseum.

May 24, 1980: Islanders win their first of four consecutive Stanley Cups, beating the Philadelphia Flyers.

April 26, 2000: Computer Associates founder and CEO Charles Wang and CA President and COO Sanjay Kumar purchase the team.

Sept. 27, 2004: Wang unveils his Lighthouse Project plan to renovate the Coliseum and develop the surrounding area. The Town of Hempstead later calls for revisions to the plan.

Aug. 1, 2011: Nassau County voters reject proposal to borrow up to $400 million toward a taxpayer-funded new arena.

Oct. 24, 2012: Wang announces the Islanders will move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015.

Aug. 19, 2014: Wang agrees to sell minority stake in the team to Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin, who will gain majority control in two years, pending NHL approval of the deal.

Oct. 9, 2015: Islanders lose first regular-season game at Barclays Center, 3-2, to Chicago Blackhawks.

June 22, 2016: NHL approves transfer of majority ownership to Malkin and Ledecky.

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January 31, 2017


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