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Long IslandColumnistsJoye Brown

Brown: Time to give up on Islanders’ return to Coliseum?

Paul Carey of the Rangers is pursued by Cal

Paul Carey of the Rangers is pursued by Cal Clutterbuck of the Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 18, 2017. Photo Credit: Steven Ryan


Should we be giving up on bringing the Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum?

Last week, the team, along with partners The Oakwood Group and Sterling Properties, put in a bid with New York State to build an arena complex at Belmont Park.

They weren’t the only ones.

There are at least two other bids: New York City FC, a soccer club partly owned by the New York Yankees, and Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group. Empire State Development would not give out names or the number of proposals it has received.

But, wait.

Haven’t we seen something like this before?

Indeed we have — with the repeated buildup, and letdown, that accompanied years of plans and proposals for the vacant parking lot surrounding the Islanders’ former home at the Coliseum in Uniondale.

There were too many plans to count as more than a decade sped by with no resolution until the county went with a proposal to refurbish rather than rebuild the Old Barn.

As for the surrounding 77 acres of vacant parking lots, buildings are going up — although criticism continues that Nassau County and Hempstead Town lacked vision enough to turn the area into a substantial economic generator.

The controversies — along with the Long Island politics of delay — helped push the Islanders toward what were supposed to be greener pastures at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Both the renovated Coliseum and Barclays are run by the same concern, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment.

The Islanders are engaged in talks over modifying their 25-year license agreement at Barclay’s — but attempts by County Executive Edward Mangano and others to return the team to Uniondale have been unsuccessful.

Which brings us back to the possibilities of development at Belmont, and how it in some ways echoes some of the starts and stops in Uniondale.

In 2013, the state asked for development proposals at Belmont. It got four, but scrapped them last year after a long-delayed process. Meanwhile, some civic groups in Elmont, where a portion of Belmont sits along the Nassau-Queens border, have for years been seeking development as a way of generating jobs and economic activity.

There are significant differences between Uniondale — where town and county politics, along with community concerns about the impact on quality of life, stalled development — and Belmont, where New York State will make the final decision.

According to a Newsday report, the state has offered no timeline on when a decision could come — leaving the possibility that the winning bid won’t be known for months.

However, the lame-duck Mangano administration — which last week recommended Belmont as a possibility for Amazon’s planned second headquarters — is not giving up on trying to get the Islanders back to Uniondale.

“It could take three, five, seven years for something to happen there [Belmont Park] and the Islanders could have been playing at . . . [a renovated] Coliseum during that time,” Mangano spokesman Ed Ward said Friday. Mangano is fighting federal corruption charges.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently that he did not view Nassau Coliseum “as a viable option.”

Ward, however, was nonplused.

“The Coliseum is a viable option,” he said, “if the Islanders say it is a viable option.”

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