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Nassau County Pitching New York Islanders Return

Nassau Coliseum

Nassau County officials want to see the NHL’s New York Islanders return to the Nassau Coliseum — and the team’s current landlord at Barclays Center has signed off on the concept.

No one was particularly happy with the way the Islanders fit in at Barclays Center, and new owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have opened talked of identifying a new arena in the New York region, including a potential facility in Queens near Citi Field and one at Belmont Park — a location that would return the Islanders to Long Island. Immediately upon taking control of the Isles, the pair rejected the idea of playing any games at Nassau Coliseum.

But that’s not stopping Nassau County officials from bringing up the possibility of the Islanders moving back, even though the renovated facility will seat only 13,000 for hockey. They’ve enlisted the early approval, sources say, from Mikhail Prohorov, who owns Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. Prohorov’s firm has a deal to manage the renovated Coliseum as well, and with the Islanders owners openly looking for a new home, he may figure better to have the team move to a facility he controls rather than a new (and potentially competitive) arena at Willets Point or Belmont Park. From the New York Post:

The Islanders, who can get out of their Barclays lease in 2019, are also interested in building an arena on the Belmont Park site.

The Islanders, led by John Tavares, are distressed over their situation at Barclays because of poor attendance and ice conditions.

Barclays would rather move them to the Coliseum than lose them to a rival arena.

Nassau County is hoping the Queens and Belmont Park overtures are simply a bargaining ploy, sources said.

There are a few different factors at play here. First, there’s an economic issue here: Can the greater New York City region support another arena to compete with Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center, Prudential Center and the Nassau Coliseum? Most metro areas can’t support two arenas, and a new Isles facility would push the NYC total to five. Second, there’s the issue of whether an NHL can survive in Nassau Coliseum: the ongoing renovations have pushed hockey capacity down to 13,000, and don’t forget the Islanders moved in the first place because of the lack of high-end amenities lacking in the Coliseum. If the Islanders were to return, the Coliseum would need further renovations.

RELATED STORIES: Belmont Park in Play for Islanders; New York Islanders Eyeing Queens Move; Ledecky Discusses New York Islanders, Nassau County Coliseum, Sound Tigers

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