NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he is “wholly, fully, unequivocally supportive of the Belmont effort” as the Islanders seek a new arena to call home.
Speaking before an event Tuesday night at the Paley Center in Manhattan celebrating the NHL’s 100th anniversary, Bettman said co-owners “Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky are doing everything they can to get the Islanders the new arena that they need so badly, and I remain the optimist that this can come to fruition on a timely basis.”
The Islanders are seeking approval to develop a site at Belmont Park, but in the meantime have committed to play at Barclays Center through next season.
“I think it would be great,” Bettman said of the Belmont site. “I think it would be great for the Islanders. I think it would be great for the people of greater New York. I think it would be great for Long Island.”
In the meantime, is Bettman concerned about the seemingly strained relationship among the Islanders, NHL and Barclays?
“No, it is being managed, and Barclays has given them a home that they needed,” Bettman said. “The Nassau Coliseum was well past its due date and I know that the Islanders appreciate that they’ve been able to play at Barclays.”
Even if the arena gets the go-ahead, the Islanders presumably will need a place to play in 2019-20 and ’20-21 as it is built.
Does Bettman believe the Islanders will remain at Barclays until a new arena can be completed?
“I’m not in the prognostication business,” he said. “Let’s take this one step at a time.”