If the Islanders' arena project on the Belmont Park property faces obstacles in approvals and construction, team management has wisely negotiated a cushion.
Point Blank has learned that the Islanders' agreement with the operators of the Nassau Coliseum is not just for the next three NHL seasons, but also includes two option years for the club. Two people with knowledge of the agreement shared the information, requesting anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the issue.
This means that if the Islanders' arena in Belmont is not completed for the start of the 2021-22 season, the team has the option to continue playing at the Coliseum for at least that season and the following one.
In April, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Associated Press Sports Editors said that he expects construction on the Belmont arena to begin in early 2019, while Jim Baumbach of Newsday reported that the Empire State Development declared that construction "remains on schedule to start as early as next spring."
This being the New York metropolitan area, it would be impressive to see a project this complicated and large started and completed on time. That's why the Islanders having two option years is logical. The Coliseum (NYCB Live) is owned and operated by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BSE), the same group that runs the Barclays Center.
One of the sources added that "It seems inevitable" that the Islanders will begin playing all games at the Coliseum as early as the 2019-20 season - pointing out the millions of dollars invested in the Coliseum to make it closer to NHL standard. "You wouldn't do that for just 60 games over three years and then, see ya."
The course added: "Brooklyn is a lame-duck arena, so for the most part only Islander fans who want to go to the Coliseum all the time will be coming out to Barclays anyway," the source said. "And the players...they care about just a few things: the location, the ice, the home team locker room and where they get to park their cars. The Islander players love the Coliseum."
The current plan for the team is to play 20 games this season at the Coliseum, and then 48 games in Nassau over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Barclays Center has approximately half of the Islanders home games over the next three seasons.
WRISTERS: Earlier this week, we wrote about out how the Islanders' games at the Coliseum this season are being heavily marketed, while the dates at Barclays seem an after-thought. In response, a very knowledgeable insider pointed out that it's BSE doing all the heavy pushing of the Coliseum games because they wouldn't mind seeing the games in Brooklyn tank. BSE knows the Brooklyn experiment was a dismal failure, and desperately wants all of the games at their arena on Hempstead Turnpike.