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Belmont Arena Groundbreaking: Islanders, Bettman, Cuomo, Anders Lee celebrate

Also: Seven additional games at the Coliseum this season.

Developer rendering of the New York Islanders’ arena and retail development at Belmont Park

The New York Islanders, developers of the arena and retail project at Belmont Park, and politicians and league officials celebrated a ceremonial groundbreaking for the new arena Monday. They also included a little bit of news affecting this season’s schedule.

An enthusiastic Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked things off by calling it a transformative project, while jokingly threatening commissioner Gary Bettman with the New York State Police if the “man of his word” league head couldn’t guarantee more games at Nassau Coliseum.

“God bless other parts where they play but there’s no place like Long Island” for the Islanders, Cuomo said.

When Bettman’s turn came, he said the Islanders would play seven more games than planned at the Coliseum, bringing the total (regular season) to 28 for 2019-20.

“When people look at the history of the Islanders, it’s easy to think about winning the four Stanley Cup championships,” Bettman also said. “But this today will go down as one of the great days in the history of the New York Islanders. Because this assures that anyone who has anything to do with the Islanders, who cares about the Islanders, who is passionate about the Islanders, this is the future of this franchise, right here, on Long Island.”

Also from Bettman:

  • Today the Islanders have twice as many season ticket holders as they did a year ago. No details on how the numbers break down.
  • So you should buy season tickets, is what he’s saying.
  • In addition to the current owners and developers who arranged all this, he made a special point to thank the late Charles Wang and his family for what the former Islanders owner did to keep the team on Long Island.

Which (New) 2019-20 Games are on Long Island?

Hope this doesn’t mess up your plans. Here are the seven games originally scheduled for Brooklyn which will now be at the Coliseum:

Single-game tickets go on sale tomorrow. Season Ticket Members can contact their Account Representative should they have any questions regarding the venue change. The Islanders Service Team are available at 888-694-7537. Full announcement here.

Ledecky Goes Off-Script in Player Intros

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky came close to matching Cuomo’s enthusiasm and bombast, recalling how he grew up not far from the arena site.

He also had fun introducing several of the players who were up on the dais. I expect many of you to incorporate these as nicknames in our Lighthouse Hockey game threads:

  • “Defenseman Devon Toews.”
  • “Tough guy Ross Johnston.”
  • “The guy who took a lot of money from us this summer but is gonna be an Islander for a long time, Brock Nelson.”
  • “A guy who finally came to his senses and got engaged this summer, Scott Mayfield.”
  • “How about Ryan Pulock?”

Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee and others I’m forgetting were also there, and Ledecky spoke glowingly about how Lee would be the captain for a very long time.

As one might expect, there were fancy shovels — with hockey stick shafts — for Lee and the other dignitaries to “break” ground.

But there you have it. Ground had already been broken, shovels were already in ground, and all that. This was the ceremonial event for people to celebrate and make speeches. A couple lawsuits are in the works, as often happens, but this train is moving forward, come lawsuit or high water.

The Islanders’ next true home is inching ever closer.