The New York Islanders will spend $5.1 million to build a new practice facility and corporate office space at Cantiague Park in Hicksville, even as the team moves to Brooklyn next season, team and county officials announced Friday.
The agreement requires the Islanders to pay Nassau $2.42 million in licensing fees over the next decade, as well as revenue from a new pro shop, the sale of naming rights and advertising, county spokesman Brian Nevin said.
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The Islanders will host five open team practices per season, two annual scrimmages and three player autograph sessions, according to the 10-year agreement. The facility will remain open for public use. The team practiced there from 1979 to 1992.
"Nassau County has been the Islanders home for the past 43 years and we are thrilled to continue this tradition," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "Cantiague Park ice facility will become one of the premier skating facilities in the area."
The Islanders, who will move to Brooklyn's Barclays Center next season, will begin practicing in Hicksville Dec. 31, Nevin said. Full renovations are expected to be complete by February, he said.
"This public-private partnership with the New York Islanders will provide an opportunity for fans to enjoy open practices, scrimmages and autograph sessions, while improving the Cantiague Park ice rink for our residents," County Executive Edward Mangano said.
Mangano first disclosed the project during his State of the County address in March, in which he said the new facility would "cement the Islanders in Nassau and provide hope that we will witness their full-time return" after the Coliseum undergoes a privately funded renovation this summer.
Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, later said there is "no indication by the Islanders, or by anyone else, that the move to Brooklyn is, or will be, temporary."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told Newsday on Thursday that he senses that many fans have embraced the upcoming move to Brooklyn and he praised the way the process has been handled.
"The Nassau Coliseum was well past its due date. The Islanders needed a new home and I think the Islanders and Islanders fans are fortunate that Barclays was there, because the inability of Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead to deal with a very important issue meant that the Islanders would have had no choice were it not for Barclays."
Neither the town nor the county responded to requests for comments on Bettman's remarks.
The Islanders' corporate offices are currently in the Coliseum and the team has practiced at Islanders Iceworks in Syosset.
The new practice facility contract calls for the Islanders to spend $5.1 million to enhance Cantiague, including new locker rooms, a team store and parking improvements.
With Neil Best