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Islanders working on where to play while Belmont arena is built

Fans file into NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum for

Fans file into NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum for a concert in 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

The Islanders’ new arena at Belmont is not likely to be ready until the 2021-22 hockey season, so the team will need to find a home for three seasons after this one.

The Islanders are in the process of opting out of the team’s 25-year lease with Barclays Center, which is run by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which also runs the NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Under the terms of the opt-out agreement, the Islanders are obligated to play next season at Barclays Center. The team and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment are negotiating a plan that includes games at both Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center, according to sources.

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said last week he is optimistic a deal to play at the Coliseum can be worked out, but he also said he did not think the team would play an entire season there.

“If you think about the Coliseum, it doesn’t have the amenities and the things that a third-generation arena will have,” Ledecky said on WFAN radio last week. He cited the “great” preseason game the Islanders played there this season on Sept. 17 against Philadelphia. “There were still unbelievably long lines for the bathrooms. Concessions are still an issue.”

A contingent of NHL officials led by Commissioner Gary Bettman toured Nassau Coliseum last week to gauge what type of improvements need to be made to host NHL games. The league is interested in upgrading the ice-making operations, suites and team locker rooms.

Bettman has long been against the notion of playing games at the Coliseum, the Islanders’ home from 1972 until 2015, but he has softened his stance after being asked by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo if “some games” could be held there during the lead-up to Belmont.

“[The league’s] initial position was, we will have no games, no regular season games, at the Nassau Coliseum,” Ledecky said last week. “The reasons: It’s small, there’s no suite revenue, no sponsorship revenue. There’s a whole bunch of issues . . . To play all your games there is going to be difficult.”

New York Sports