October 24, 2012: A Day That Will Live Forever for Islanders Fans
As we approach the anniversary of that date, I thought it was a good time to reflect on the day the New York Islanders announced they had signed a 25-year lease to play their home games at the new Barclays Center, in Brooklyn. Home games will commence with the 2015-16 season, thus ending a relationship of over 40 years with the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale. The Islanders will join the Brooklyn (nee New York) Nets, another former occupant of the Nassau Coliseum, who have already moved to Barclays.
As a long-standing Islanders season ticket holder and fan, I have made the 15-minute drive to the Coliseum from my home more times than I can remember. My children grew up at Islanders games, often fighting over who would accompany me to the game. When my wife, or a business associate, went with me, my kids gave me the silent treatment until I delivered a t-shirt or Islanders toy for them. We knew almost every usher and security guard by first name. Now, as young adults, my children drive themselves to the games, a concept I have yet to get comfortable with, but that is a topic for another day.
This NHL season started with high hopes after an Islanders playoff run last year, and while I still make the short drive from my home to the Coliseum, now I think about the commute I’ll have to Brooklyn in a few years. I also think of the economic impact Nassau and Suffolk counties will experience as a result of the move. In August of 2013 Ed Mangano, Nassau County Executive, and Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner, announced plans to overhaul the Nassau Coliseum area. A process that had been going on for over a decade looks to be finally coming to an end, although politicians appear likely to continue to discuss it. In a recent debate between candidates for Nassau County Executive, Mangano and Tom Suozzi, the former County Executive Mangano defeated in 2009, argued over the future of the Coliseum Hub. One of the key questions seems to relate to the use of Video Lottery Terminals, or “VTLs”, also known as Video Slots. Rumors are that the Nassau budget for 2015 includes $19 million in revenue from VTLs and that an ideal location for the VTLs might be in the new Hub. In June, the State Legislature agreed to allow Nassau and Suffolk counties to install up to 1,000 VTLs. When the issue came up at the debate, Mangano, in response to Suozzi, said that gambling of any kind would not be permitted at the Hub.
I expect the Islanders, and maybe even the Nets, to play a few games a year each year at the new site in Long Island. In the end, the Islanders, and Nassau County residents, are getting both a state of the art entertainment facility in Brooklyn and the new Hub in Uniondale. It is hoped that the new Nassau Coliseum will be a first-class destination for family fun, sports and entertainment. Experts have said that the economic impact of the Islanders leaving Long Island will not be significant to the economy, as long as the current plans to rebuild the Nassau hub, including a renovated Coliseum, continue. What the New Coliseum will look like I don’t know, but what I do know is that the Long Island economy could certainly use the boost!