The New York Islanders returning home to the Nassau Coliseum for all their games during the 2020-21 season is some of the best news Islanders fans have heard in quite some time. With the new arena in Belmont being built and the renovation of the Coliseum during the past few years, the Islanders moved their home games to Brooklyn.
While Barclays Center is one of the most beautiful venues in which to watch an event, it was not built for hockey. There were many obstructed seats with obstructed views, and the scoreboard was not lined up to center ice.
After the renovation to the Coliseum, the Islanders split their home games at the two venues last season and were scheduled to do so again this season. However, the team announced at the beginning of the season that they added seven more games to the Coliseum and will now play all 41 of their home games in 2020-21 in a place Islanders fans call home. New York State invested $6 million in improving the Coliseum to make it work for the 2020 playoffs as well.
“The Islanders have always been Long Island’s team, and I’m proud to announce this iconic sports franchise will be coming home for good – one year ahead of schedule,” Governor Cuomo said. “This long-awaited homecoming will bring the Islanders back to their passionate fan base while generating energy and excitement from Long Islanders for the new Belmont Park Arena opening next year.”NHL.com
Two Home Arenas
While the Islanders played exceptionally well in Brooklyn, winning their first playoff series in 23 years, there was just never the same amount of energy during home games. For many fans living in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, they had to take the train to the game instead of making the short drive to the Coliseum where fans would start tailgating hours before puck drop.
The ice was also extremely poor at Barclays, and Islanders players would openly criticize the ice conditions. They were also forced to stay in hotels in New York City prior to home games in order to participate in morning skates (from ‘Islanders will be staying in New York City for games at Barclays,’ New York Post, 04/26/2019).
They ultimately had to play Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Brooklyn after the NHL deemed the Coliseum did not qualify as an NHL arena despite holding Round 1 there. The arena now holds the Long Island Nets as well as the New York Open in February. Even with 2,008 fewer seats in the Coliseum, it still blew away the Barclays Center in attendance. The same can be said about this season.
Back in 2011, Nassau County residents rejected the proposal for a $400 million overhaul to keep the Islanders in their original home. (from ‘Nassau Voters Reject Proposal to Fix Coliseum,’ New York Times, 08/02/2011) After it did not go through, the Islanders needed to find a new place to play with many questions coming up if they would stay on Long Island. They ended up playing in Brooklyn, but have a new home set to debut in Belmont in 2021-22.
The most iconic moment in Islanders’ history happened in the Coliseum at 7:11 of overtime in Game 6 of the 1980 Stanley Cup Final. John Tonelli made a pass to Bob Nystrom, who scored the Cup-clinching goal for the Islanders’ first Stanley Cup in team history. They would end up winning the next three Cups with one of them coming on Coliseum ice.
Nicknamed Fort Neverlose, and the ‘old barn,’ the Islanders have had many iconic moments take place in that building. Before closing, the lowest-hanging ceiling in the NHL made the arena one of the loudest in the league. Even with seats breaking and leaks coming from the roof, Islanders fans continued to come out to a place they call home and had hundreds of memorable moments.
We are looking forward to playing all of our games next season at the Coliseum before we move to our new home at Belmont Park, both of which have been made possible by Governor Cuomo and Commissioner BettmanCo-owner Jon Ledecky
For the rest of this season, the Islanders will have eight more games at the Coliseum and are playing their last three games ever in Brooklyn in March. While the Isles have not lost in regulation at the Barclays Center this season, fans will still be happy to spend their time in the old barn. They recently added two former players to the rafters in Tonelli and Butch Goring in one of the most iconic arenas in the league.
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