Plans for an AHL franchise to play at a renovated Nassau Coliseum are now on the back burner, as project planners opt to go in a different direction.
Work to overhaul the former home of the New York Islanders is expected to wrap up soon, and professional sports will be return this fall in the form of the NBA Development League’s Long Island Nets. At one point, however, it was expected that minor league hockey would be played at the venue.
In 2013, Nassau County and developer Bruce Ratner agreed to terms on a proposal that called for an AHL team to move its home games to the Coliseum. However, a report from Newsday states that the two sides are shelving that proposal, as the county shifts it focus to seeing if the Islanders will return to the venue.
It seemed at one point that the Bridgeport Sound Tigers–a franchise owned by and affiliated with the Islanders–would move from their Connecticut home to Long Island. However, Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin indicated last summer that a move from Bridgeport was far from assured, and said that the county’s previous agreement relating to the AHL did not affect their long-term plans, especially with the Islanders locked into a deal Webster Bank Arena through the 2020-21 season.
Indications from the league are that it has been years since the Nassau Coliseum was under serious for the Tigers. More from Newsday:
David Andrews, president of the American Hockey League, said while the Coliseum would be “a pretty good location” for a team, there have been no recent discussions about a move to Nassau. The AHL and the team discussed the issue two years ago, but the Tigers never pursued a move and the topic was dropped, Andrews said. A team would need league approval to relocate, making a move in time for the start of next season out of the question, he said.
“The team that would have easiest access to relocate into Nassau would be the Islanders’ affiliate because of their location,” Andrews said. “But I can certainly, and candidly, tell you that I don’t think we’ve discussed it since the new ownership has taken over.”
An Islanders spokesman declined to comment, as did Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the entity formed to redevelop the Coliseum.
The Islanders have been seeking a new arena, as the club is dissatisfied with its situation at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Bloomberg recently reported that the team could leave after the 2018-19 NHL season, but whether the Coliseum is an option for the team–be at as a temporary solution or a long-term home–remains to be seen. The Islanders have downplayed the possibility of returning to the venue after its renovations are complete, and have reportedly been looking at new arena options in Queens or at Belmont Park.