The Islanders will play an additional eight games at NYCB LIVE’s Nassau Coliseum during the 2018-19 season, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Thursday.
The increase means the Islanders will play 20 of their 82 games next season at the Uniondale venue they called home from 1972-2015. They will play a total of 68 games there in the next three seasons, part of a split schedule with Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Cuomo said the additional games were being switched to the Coliseum because of “high demand” for the 12 games already scheduled there.
“Until the grand opening of their new state-of-the-art arena at Belmont Park, the Islanders will reunite with their fans at Nassau Coliseum and build momentum for a long-awaited homecoming,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The Islanders’ first game in Uniondale will not be until Dec. 1 against the Blue Jackets. They will not host the Rangers there this season. Starting March 1, the Islanders’ final 10 home games will be at the Coliseum.
The team is dividing its games between Uniondale and Brooklyn for three years until a planned arena is opened at Belmont Park, probably during the 2021-22 season.
The eight-game addition means that nearly half of the Islanders’ home games next season will be played in Nassau County.
“It has always been our desire to maximize the amount of Islanders games at NYCB LIVE and provide Long Island fans with more opportunities to see their team live,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of BSE Global, which operates both the Coliseum and Barclays Center. “NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Islanders ownership were fully supportive in making this happen.”
New York State taxpayers are funding a $6-million grant to upgrade the Coliseum to NHL compliance. Those improvements are supposed to be completed this fall.
Team co-owner Jon Ledecky said Cuomo has been “fundamental in bringing the Islanders back to Long Island.”
The Islanders have drawn poorly at Barclays, where their average attendance of 12,002 last season ranked last of the 31 NHL teams. They were 28th of 30 the previous two seasons.
With Jim Baumbach