The NHL has agreed to move seven additional Islanders home games to NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum for this season, commissioner Gary Bettman said.
That brings the total of regular season games slated for the Coliseum to 28 compared with 13 for Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Two of the games being moved to Long Island are against the Rangers, which easily rank as the most anticipated games of the season by Islanders fans.
Bettman made the announcement during his turn at the dais Monday afternoon as part of the Islanders’ new arena groundbreaking ceremony at Belmont.
The Islanders’ Belmont arena is expected to be ready in October 2021, and they are splitting their home games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum until then in a deal brokered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
“Islanders fans have waited a long time for a world-class home,” Bettman said, “and it’s now time to focus on the Isles' bright future on Long Island.”
Bettman said the extra games moved from Brooklyn to Uniondale this season were at the request of Cuomo and the Islanders, which occurred after the schedule was released in June, and the NHL recently approved the switch.
“The governor has made it a priority to tell me how important it was for the Islanders to begin the transition back to Long Island even sooner,” Bettman said.
Added Cuomo: “The commissioner promised me that they would play even more games at the Nassau Coliseum. I know the commissioner is a man of his word.”
The Brooklyn games that are moving to the Coliseum are:
Sunday, Oct. 6, vs. Winnipeg at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 8, vs. Edmonton at 7 p.m.
Sunday, Oct. 27, vs. Flyers at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 2, vs. Devils at 7 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 6, vs. Avalanche at 7 p.m.
Thursday, Jan. 16, vs. Rangers at 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Feb. 25 vs. Rangers at 7 p.m.
This season marks the second in which the Islanders are engaged in an unusual setup in which they have two home arenas, both operated by BSE Global.
The NHL approved the setup a year ago because Empire State Development, the state’s business aid agency which is coordinating the Belmont project process, and the Islanders committed to a nearly $10 million Coliseum renovation to bring it into NHL compliance.
ESD contributed a $6 million grant and the Islanders covered the rest of the renovation that upgraded locker rooms, television equipment and ice-related upgrades.
The split schedule, while unusual, went off smoothly, with fans especially raving about the atmosphere at the Coliseum, which is more conducive for hockey than Barclays Center, where the scoreboard is off-center and there are some obstructed view seats.
Last season, the Islanders averaged 13,514 for the 21 games at the Coliseum, which holds 13,900. In Brooklyn, they averaged 11,248 at an arena that holds 15,795. It’s paid off, too. Bettman said the Islanders have twice as many season ticket holders as they did a year ago.
“God bless other parts where they play,” Cuomo said, “but there is no place like the Islanders playing on Long Island, period.”