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$6 million state grant for Coliseum wins praise at hearing

At a public hearing in Mineola Thursday, plans

At a public hearing in Mineola Thursday, plans to use a grant to bring the Nassau Coliseum up to NHL standards by October so the Islanders can play there were discussed. Credit: Danielle Silverman

A $6 million state grant to renovate NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum for future Islanders games drew praise at a public hearing Thursday.

Hockey fans and some economic development advocates said the move to bring the team back temporarily to its former home would benefit local families and the economy.

The plan combines the state grant with $2.5 million the Islanders have committed to spend on upgrades that will bring the Coliseum into compliance with National Hockey League standards.

Representatives from Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency, hosted the hearing. The agency, by law, is soliciting public feedback and must return to its board for reconsideration if there is community opposition, an official said.

The improvements total $8.5 million and are expected to be completed by October. The Islanders would play 60 games at the Coliseum over their next three seasons. The state grant was appropriated in the 2015-16 budget as part of the Transformative Investment Program.

The county-owned arena reopened a year ago following an 18-month, $165-million renovation by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, during which the seating capacity for hockey games was reduced to 13,900 from more than 16,000.

Jessica Dubner of Old Bethpage praised the decision to use the Coliseum while the Islanders await their new proposed arena to be built at Belmont Park.

“It makes it a lot easier to bring your child to a game and enjoy the traditional the same way you did,” said Dubner, whose son plays in the junior Islanders youth organization.

The $1 billion project planned for Belmont Park calls for an 18,000-seat arena that would be the new home of the Islanders. It also includes 435,000 square feet of retail stores, restaurants, a movie theater and a 250-room hotel.

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