UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- The New York Islanders will play 12 regular-season games at Nassau Coliseum next season and 48 more during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.
New York will play its remaining home games this season at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, their current arena, then split their home games between Barclays and Nassau Coliseum while their new arena at Belmont Park is under construction, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday.
The Islanders, who played at the Coliseum from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn, are planning to have the Belmont arena ready for the 2021-22 season.
It has not been determined where the Islanders would play Stanley Cup Playoff games between next season and the spring of 2021. Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment operates both Barclays Center and Nassau Coliseum.
"I think it's great for our fans," Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said after a press conference at the Coliseum. "I'm on a listening campaign with the fans every game at Barclays. I walk the concourses, I see them before and after the game. The No. 1 thing they say is, 'Please, Mr. Ledecky, during this period, can you bring the team back to the Nassau Coliseum?' I think (co-owners) Scott Malkin, Dewey Shay and myself have listened to that, and this opportunity presented itself with the folks from Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. We decided that it was worth taking a look at.
"Kudos to (NHL) Commissioner Bettman and his staff for coming out and taking a serious look at it, and then making recommendations for what needs to be improved. I'm sure in the weeks ahead, you'll be hearing about the improvements that were alluded to to make this an NHL-acceptable facility."
Nassau Coliseum's lack of amenities is the biggest reason why Islanders home games will be split between Barclays Center and the Coliseum, according to Ledecky.
"It comes down to the fact that we want to maintain a (salary) cap-max team," Ledecky said. "To do that, you have to maximize your revenues. If you look around here, suite revenues, club suites, food, beverage, etc., they're not as accessible as they are at Barclays Center. From a financial standpoint, I think we reached an accommodation that works for everybody."
Nassau Coliseum underwent $165 million in renovations after the Islanders moved out in the spring of 2015 and reopened in April 2017. The Islanders returned to a play a preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sept. 17, which they won in overtime on a goal by center John Tavares.
"I think it's exciting," said Tavares, the No. 1 pick by the Islanders at the 2009 NHL Draft. "Obviously, this place means a lot to the organization and our fans, and to us as players, including myself. So many great memories here. It'll be great to be able to come back here. No doubt, I think it's a positive thing for everybody."
Tavares, the Islanders captain and leading scorer with 57 points (26 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games this season, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. The 27-year-old has 594 points (261 goals, 333 assists) in 637 NHL games, all with New York.
"Everything that goes into my daily life will impact my decision," Tavares said. "I think I've said in the past, the Islanders belong on Long Island. Belmont's obviously great news for the team. I think playing at the Coliseum's great news; we did it for over 40 years, I did it for six or seven. This is a great place. We practice across the street now. There's so many great things about the Coliseum. I know everyone involved is excited."
With the arena at Belmont secured and more clarity as far as where and how the Islanders will split their home games over the next three seasons, Ledecky is hopeful the next big deal he secures will involve re-signing the face of the franchise.
"We love John Tavares," Ledecky said. "We want John Tavares to remain here for his entire career as an Islander, and we want him lifting that fifth Cup. The ball really is in John's court. He's being very contemplative about it, he's thinking about it. It's a huge decision in a young man's life.
"We want him to take his time and we want him to come to the decision that's best for him and his family."