This narrative has been chronicled for a very long time. But finally, the Islanders are home.
The history between arena problems and the team started back in 2004 when the Lighthouse Project was established. The Lighthouse Project was created to help renovate the third oldest arena in the Nation Hockey League, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They needed to expand the arena and its surroundings.
Owner Charles Wang developed a blueprint idea to propose an upgrade. Wang’s idea included adding a 60-floor tower that resembled a lighthouse, a hotel, housing, multiple athletic facilities and restaurants. His idea was projected to cost approximately $200 million but unfortunately, Wang and the Lighthouse Project decided to pair with Rexcorp, which caused a huge downsize of the renovation. Back in July of 2010, Hempstead supervisor Kate Murray announced that the Lighthouse project would not be continued by Charles Wang.
The Islanders time at Nassau Coliseum supposedly ended in the 2014-15 NHL season. Their lease was up, which guided them move their home arena to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. This move has created numerous complaints due to the obstructed view seating, off centered scoreboard, ice quality and no real Islanders feel with the black hallways. Business Insider commented on the seating arrangement in sections 201 to 204 and 228 to 231 and named it the worst seat in American professional sports. Some fans have mentioned the move felt like we were renting out the arena and could not make it feel like home.
On Dec. 20, 2017 the New York Islanders won a bid to build an arena at Belmont Park. That’s when the Islanders started to slowly make their move back to Long Island. Nassau Coliseum reopened for hockey in March of 2017 which allowed the Islanders to host one preseason game in Sept. 2017. Currently, the 2019-20 season is split with 28 games at Nassau Coliseum and 13 at Barclays Center.
Belmont Park Arena is scheduled to open for the 2021-22 season. The arena will hold around 17,000 for hockey, have an abundant amount of food and drink options, outdoor terraces and a variety of exclusive seating. This location is going to turn into a premier arena. The arena is surrounded by a 250-key hotel and a section where visitors can shop and dine at numerous establishments. Another key factor of this arena will be the Long Island Railroad Elmont platform that is planned to create an easier and faster commute to games. This renovation is a $1.3 billion plan and is planned to be the centerpiece of Belmont Park.
This arena is nothing but positive for Long Island. Over 10,000 jobs will be created through the retail and resturant portion, the economy will boost to the billions and over 3,000 jobs will be produced just for Belmont Arena.
Finally, the Islanders have a home, back on Long Island.