The New York Islanders will “rock the barn,” once again, co-owner John Ledecky said on Monday when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the team will return to Nassau Coliseum to play half its games while the new arena at Belmont Park is built.
It is part of a transitional phase of the Islanders moving from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn back to Nassau County, Cuomo said during a news conference at Nassau Coliseum.
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan joined Cuomo in announcing the Islanders’ sooner-than-expected return to Nassau.
In the three seasons until the Belmont arena is built, the Islanders will split their 120 games between their former home, at Nassau Coliseum, and their current home at the Barclays Center.
The Islanders could be playing at the renovated Coliseum as early as September, Cuomo said.
The Islanders played at the Coliseum for 45 years before moving to Barclays in 2015. The Coliseum underwent a $165 million renovation and reopened in April, but Ledecky had said it still was not suitable for the team to play in, according to Newsday.
Instead of returning to the renovated Coliseum, the Islanders, partnered with Sterling Development and Oak View Group, plan to create a new 18,000-seat arena at Belmont Park. The development will also feature a multipurpose event center, a retail center and a hotel.
However, with just a few modifications that the Coliseum will make, the Islanders will be able to play at their former home while the new arena is being built, Cuomo said.
“For me, when the Islanders left it was sad, you feel like you’re losing part of your character, part of who you are, part of your identity,” Cuomo said.
The Islanders “coming home” to Nassau, he added, is a sense of the “revitalization of Long Island.”
Along with the $1 billion development at Belmont, the Long Island Rail Road and Long Island parks are being renovated, Cuomo said.
The Islanders’ return is the “cherry on top of the cake,” Cuomo said.