Tim Leiweke has a long-term vision for NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum which includes the Islanders remaining in their ancestral barn for one more season before moving to UBS Arena at Belmont Park.
The Oak View Group CEO said his arena development company has made a financial offer to see that vision through, adding New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has encouraged his firm “to be a part of the solution here.”
Which has Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky confident a deal will be struck for the Coliseum to open its doors for NHL hockey during the 2020-21 season.
“One thousand percent,” Ledecky told Newsday on Tuesday. “I think that Gov. Cuomo, it’s an important initiative for him. Laura Curran, the Nassau County Executive, has given many reassurances that she’s focused like a laser on making that happen. Quite frankly, it doesn’t even enter my mind that we’d be playing somewhere else.”
The Islanders were expected to play their full home schedule at the Coliseum next season after splitting time between that building and Barclays Center this current season and the previous one. The Islanders played exclusively in Brooklyn from 2016-18.
In June, Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports & Entertainment, which holds the lease to the county-owned Coliseum, said it was shutting the building and would seek investors to take over the lease and assume the remaining $100 million in debt.
Nassau County issued a notice of default on July 7 threatening to terminate Onexim’s arena lease if more than $2 million in unpaid rent and utilities wasn’t paid. An extension through Aug. 7 has been granted to resolve those issues.
“We are certainly interested in playing a role to help with the vision for Nassau [and] short term for the Islanders’ games,” Leiweke told Newsday. “It is 100 percent where Jon, [co-owner] Scott [Malkin], Lou [Lamoriello, the team’s president and general manager] and the team want to play next year.
“Long term, we had an idea on what to do with that building that we think fits nicely into UBS Arena and that combining the two creates two of the best facilities in all of New York for music and live entertainment,” Leiweke added. “We have offered that up. We’ve offered to put money behind it. What we don’t want to do is inherit bad decisions that were made in the past. We’re prepared to make new capital commitments.”