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Islanders Interim Occupancy at the Coliseum, Ever Nearer

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Newsday reports parties are “closing in” on an agreement

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“Sources say he preferred playing back in...”
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It’s no secret the Islanders franchise appears to be headed toward some form of intermediate occupancy of their original and former home, the Nassau [now with a bunch of corporate jargon slapped on its name] Veterans Memorial Coliseum, between the time that they or Barclays Center can opt out of the current lease and the time that a new building is ready at Belmont.

Today Newsday’s Jim Baumbach reports parties are “closing in on an agreement” to make it so:

It is not yet known how the games will be structured.

The Islanders have been negotiating with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates both arenas, in the weeks since Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the Islanders’ bid to develop an arena at Belmont was selected as the winner. The Islanders and Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment have until Jan. 30 to complete the opt-out process.

Again, all tea leaves have been pointing this way, with this being a negotiating dance between the team, the operator of both arenas, and the league; but this is your latest report sharing new info about things, well, going that way instead of breaking apart.

Baumbach also referenced the Jan 10 interview by Jon Ledecky on WFAN (where he had to suffer through the Boomer Esiason, Now Average Sports Loudmouth and he of the “Belmont is a pipe dream” insight, Experience) where the Isles co-owner said he thought something would be worked out.

That was the day after he and NHL representatives toured the renovated-but-still-unfit Coliseum to see what modifications would be needed to make this so.

Note that this negotiating timeline also was expected, and lines up with the fact both parties are in the last month of their opt-out (and opt to re-negotiate) window for the original “ironclad” (Charles Wang’s words) 25-year agreement to play in Brooklyn.

So, we think we know:

  • The Islanders will play next season (2018-19) in Brooklyn, as Ledecky has long said (though he also had insisted the Coliseum was out of the question...cagily noting that it’s because Bettman said so).
  • After that, assuming opt-out (and re-negotiate), it’s to be determined.
  • The Isles want Belmont done ASAP but Baumbach reported this month after canvasing many experts that it would take 38 months (so, ready for 2021-22 opener), including the required environmental review process.
  • Therefore, all parties can wave their leverage at each other and find some sort of happy medium that fills dates at both venues somehow, in either or both of 2019-20 or 2020-21.

How to structure it, where, and when? Like everything to do with the Islanders, you will find vast differences of opinions, preferences and yearnings depending on personal convenience, historic wounds, and general grievances to be shouted at clouds.

We also know that some time in 2019 some Canada-based reporter will cite this shuffle as reason that Mathew Barzal or Anders Lee or somebody hasn’t signed a new contract yet, because commuting.