It’s the off-season, time once again for the Islanders’ annual where will they play next ritual. Today, the rumors are brought to you by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.
I would also expect some clarity in coming days/weeks on NYI long-term arena/home issue. All signs pointing towards the Belmont, NY, site.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) April 12, 2017
Last week we had the opening of the new Coliseum. We heard this sentiment from a lot of fans. “Oooh look it’s a shiny new building! Our team used to play there, maybe they should move back there and play there again. Everything old is new again. This will be great. Move them back home!”
On second thought, that’s a terrible idea.
The Islanders moved away from the Coliseum because they needed a new home. The Nassau Coliseum was falling apart. It was old, cramped, and just not getting the job done in an era where more is..well…more. They wanted to stay on site and build a new arena. It didn’t happen. So, they had to explore other options. Unfortunately that option, Brooklyn, was not a good one then, and it’s not a good one now.
While the Coliseum would be a nice story, it’s simply not a good fit. The arena, while “nice enough,” still doesn’t get the job done. The corridors are still pretty narrow, the inside is very similarly colored to Barclays with a black and white color scheme, and let’s not even talk about the outrageous parking fee. Aside from some plaques downstairs, there is nothing at all that screams Islanders come home. Remember the old saying, “you can’t go home again.”
I think people sometimes fail to realize that it’s not JUST an arena issue. There is a lot more that goes into this. Things are different now than they were 30 years ago. People want more. It’s time for the Islanders to move on to bigger and better things.
Think about the area around the Coliseum. Are there bars and restaurants in the area? No, not really. Are there any coming? With Nassau County’s repeated infighting, who knows what will become of the area surrounding the arena.
Is it easy to get to via public transportation? No, not really. There is no direct stop at Nassau Coliseum.
Can you seat 16,000-17,000 people or more comfortably? Not at this point. If you have a good team, and you are going to try to draw people in, a smaller size is tough. 15,000 would be the smallest arena in the league.
Are there other entertainment options to draw people to the area? No. Ever purposely go to Uniondale? Yeah, me neither.
But, when you look at the rumored site of a new arena in Elmont, you have the potential for something great. It’s right off the LIE, so it’s easy to get to by car. You already have Belmont race track there which is always a draw. There is also room to build and make it a destination. In December, NY State killed a request for proposals to redevelop the state run land. That was all in an effort to give companies a chance to do some bidding on work for the area that would be beyond the scope of the original plan. Of course, that also helps put a new home for the Islanders at the forefront of any possible proposal. It would likely replace the soccer stadium that was once called for.
If Nassau County can’t get its act together with regards to the so-called Hub area, then its time for the Islanders to do what suits them best; relocate to an area best for the team and its fans. Elmont would have an LIRR stop, it would have a built in event companion to bring people to the area, and best of all it’s still on Long Island. So, the Islanders would once again be in Nassau County (take that for what it’s worth). The other good thing is that you have an up and coming area that is ripe for development. As the Islanders continue to (hopefully) improve, the area will as well. If you figure that this probably wouldn’t happen until say maybe 2020 at the earliest, who knows what the team could look like by then. If all breaks right, the Islanders should have a perennial Cup contender.
The most important aspect of this is to give the Islanders a home they can call their own. If the Islanders can get this settled in the next few weeks, before it’s time to re-sign John Tavares, that gives them a major reason for the captain to have no qualms about re-signing. Think about the impact on free agents as well. With the team being pretty far down on the urgency list for free agents, a solidified future could really change things.
Let’s hope the rumors are true, something finally gets done, and we can finally put this whole mess to bed once and for all. The Islanders deserve it, but the fans deserve it even more.