Staying at the Nassau Coliseum for 2020-21 is key for the New York Islanders, and that might very well happen.
A month ago Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports & Entertainment, the company running the Nassau Coliseum, closed the New York Islanders home indefinitely.
With $100 million in debt after a $180 million revamp of the now 48-year-old venue and more than $2 million in unpaid rent and utilities, Onexim wants out and is looking for someone to take over the lease and its debt.
Leaving the New York Islanders and their fanbase trying to figure out where they would play next as they await the opening of their brand new arena at Belmont Park.
Staying On the Island
Brooklyn is an option. The Islanders are on the lease there until they make the move to Belmont. But as Islanders legend Clark Gillies has said:
"“I know the players hate [the Barclays Center],” Gillies said. “They were loving the Coliseum. It’s a real mess right now, that’s for sure. There’s no other way to put it.”"
Thankfully, it seems like the Oak View Group is interested in taking over the lease from Onexim and keep the Islanders playing at the Nassau Coliseum until their move to Belmont.
If that name sounds familiar its because Oak View is part of the “New York Arena Partners” group that is building the Isles arena at Belmont Park. Oak View will also be operating Belmont once it is open.
They know the value of keeping the Islanders on Long Island.
Going to Brooklyn is a step back for a franchise that has been consistently taking one step forward year over year. Trust and excitement have been painstakingly rebuilt into this franchise after years of failure and neglect.
Going back to Brooklyn is a step back. It’s not to say the Islanders can’t win in Brooklyn. Over 154 games in the borough, the Islanders are 85-48-21 all-time. They can in fact win at the Barclays Center.
The Barclays Center is also a bigger venue with more seats and luxury suites. The Isles could make more money by playing there. But it’s not home.
Sure, the Nassau Coliseum’s concourse is tiny, the bathroom lines are ridiculous, and the building is ancient. But, it’s the Islanders home and has been for the better part of 50 years. Leaving this way just isn’t the send off the Coliseum deserves.
If the New York Arena Partners and by extension Oak View Group want Belmont to be a success they need to continue building faith in the franchise they need to give the fans win-after-win as they transition to that new arena.
And those wins don’t necessarily need to come on the ice. Keeping the Isles at the Nassau Coliseum for the 2020-21 season is a huge win for the team and the fans.
Not being able to give the Coliseum the send-off it deserves would be a stain this franchise would carry forever. The Oak View Group knows this and it’s why they’re trying to see if they can take over the lease for the Coliseum for that one final year.