Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said on WFAN on Wednesday morning that he is “confident something will be worked out” regarding playing some games at Nassau Coliseum as the team builds its new arena at Belmont Park.
But Ledecky resisted the idea the Islanders could play full seasons at the Coliseum during the years leading up to the opening of their new home arena.
“If you think about the Coliseum, it doesn’t have the amenities and the things that a third generation arena will have,” Ledecky said. “For example, in that great preseason game, there were still unbelievably long lines for the bathrooms. Concessions are still an issue.”
Ledecky said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was joined by a team of seven senior league officials on the tour of the Coliseum on Tuesday to assess what improvements need to take place in order to host some regular season games.
The meeting and tour of the Coliseum, first reported by Newsday on Tuesday evening, also included Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment CEO Brett Yormark and Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
The Coliseum, which opened last March following an 18-month, $165-million renovation, is owned by the county and operated by Nassau Events Center, a subsidiary of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. Its new capacity is 13,900 for hockey.
Ledecky said league officials were looking at the ice-making plants and television capabilities, among other issues. “This is in the hands of the National Hockey League, which has to make an assessment of any arena in which games are played in,” Ledecky said.
Bettman has long been outspoken against the notion of the Islanders playing any games at the renovated Coliseum, even on a short-term basis. But NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Newsday last week that stance has changed; Ledecky said Wednesday that the impetus for that came when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo asked Bettman about the Islanders playing “some games” at the Coliseum at the Belmont arena news conference last month.
“Its initial position was, we will have no games, no regular season games, at the Nassau Coliseum,” Ledecky said of the NHL. “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.”
The Islanders and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which also operates Barclays Center, are going through the process of opting out of their arena agreement. Sources say those negotiations are focused on where the Islanders will play their home games in the years before moving to Belmont, including some at the Coliseum.
The Islanders have not said when they expect the Belmont arena will open.
Ledecky said the next step is to hear what the league thinks about the Coliseum.
“We don’t have an answer on that yet because it’s not our decision to make,” Ledecky said of playing games at the Coliseum. “We’re waiting on the NHL having taken this tour, having brought these senior officials from all walks.”
But he acknowledged that a segment of Islanders fans are eager to spend some time at the Coliseum as they await their new home arena at Belmont. And Ledecky expressed confidence that will happen.
“The Coliseum fits into the mosaic of appealing to our fans,” Ledecky said. “And we’re listening to our fans . . . and we’re trying to accommodate that within the context of keeping a team that has enough revenue to be [competitive].”