The New York Islanders will make their Long Island return a full year early, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced ahead of Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
The team will play all home games during the 2020-21 season at the Nassau Coliseum and any home playoff dates will take place on Long Island this season and next. New York State invested $6 million to upgrade to the building’s infrastructure to ease concerns from the NHL.
“The Islanders should be on Long Island,” Gov. Cuomo said. “It was complicated more than anything because you had to deal with the NHL issues at this facility and we had to get them done, and get them done quickly. I’m overjoyed because I thought we’d have to wait for the new arena and that’s when they would come back.”
The Nassau Coliseum will be brought up to the NHL’s minimum standards for its venues, with improvements going toward the facilities ice plant, broadcast infrastructure and renovating the team locker rooms.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Islanders co-owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky were on hand for Saturday’s announcement.
The Islanders are currently awaiting the completion of their new arena at Belmont Park, which they’re expected to move into at the start of the 2021-22 season. The franchise broke ground on the site last September, with Gov. Cuomo in attendance.
They have been splitting time between the Barclays Center, where they moved to following the 2014-15 season, and the renovated Nassau Coliseum for the past two seasons.
“Government has a vested interest in seeing sports teams located in their region,” Gov. Cuomo said. “They’re good for economic development. They’re good as an attraction overall to bring people to the state. … I believe as part of growing Long Island as a region in this state the Islanders were very important to Long Island.”