The Islanders will be a Brooklyn team no longer earlier than expected.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced prior to Saturday afternoon’s meeting with the Boston Bruins that the Islanders will play all potential home playoff games this year and all home games next year at the Nassau Coliseum until their new arena in Belmont is open.
“It’s in the name, the Islanders need to be on Long Island,” Cuomo said.
It was the icing on the cake of a pregame ceremony that also included the jersey retirement of Butch Goring’s No. 91.
The decision brings an end to a turbulent relationship between the Islanders and the Barclays Center — the Brooklyn arena the team moved to in 2015 after 43 years at the dilapidated Coliseum.
Nassau County legislatures who helped fuel the team’s move from their original home proceeded to approve a $165 million renovation that transformed the venue to more of a concert or special-events venue.
But the franchise’s relationship with the Barclays Center quickly nosedived as the majority of the fan base refused to make the trip from Long Island out to Brooklyn. The Islanders ranked near the bottom in home attendance numbers for their entire stay in Brooklyn, prompting the team and arena to nix their 25-year lease.
”The Islanders playing off Long Island never sat well with me,” Cuomo added.
In December 2017, the Islanders won a bid to build a new arena at Belmont Park next to the famed horse-racing track in Elmont, NY, though an extensive environmental review process delayed the start of construction.
The 18,000-seat venue is slated to open for the start of the 2021-22 season.
With the Barclays Center looking to lessen their load of housing the Islanders, the NHL agreed to split the team’s home schedule between Brooklyn and the renovated Coliseum last season.
New York played 12 regular-season games and the first round of the playoffs at the Coliseum last season before. This season, they are playing 28 games on the Island and 13 games in Brooklyn.
The Islanders have three Brooklyn games remaining with the next coming up on Tuesday against the Montreal Canadiens.