It’s no secret that the Islanders have had stadium issues since the mid-nineties.
The Nassau Coliseum was slowly deteriorating, and the team on the ice had gone from contending for cups, to barely making the playoffs.
And while the memories of “Fort NeverLose” will always remain, the fort itself has seen better days. Yes, it was “our dump”, but it was still a dump.
It probably didn’t help that the Rangers and the Devils won a combined total of 4 cups from 1994 to 2003.
In 2004, then-owner Charles Wang tried to get a new plan in place called the Lighthouse Project, which would renovate the Coliseum; that was a small part of a huge development plan. It seemed great on paper, but the price tag was outrageous (almost $4 billion), and no one really wanted to sign onto it.
Wang then tried to secure $440million from taxpayer money in order to build a new arena in Hempstead, but Nassau County voters (rightfully) voted no on that request. The owner had no choice but to move the team to Brooklyn, into the brand-new Barclays Center. He then sold minority stakes to current owners John Ledecky and Scott Malkin, leaving them to try and fix that mess.
While I enjoyed the Brooklyn Islanders for a time (me being a city slicker made it easier to go to games), it was clear that the move had more negatives than positives. Ledecky and Malkin knew this too, and they tried to bring the Islanders back to Long Island. That meant splitting time between the very decrepit Coliseum, and Barclays; there may be people that like to claim that the constant switching knocked them out of the 2019 playoffs, but that’s a bit of a stretch. However, after years of playing hockey in a non-hockey arena, on August 8th, 2019 the Empire State Development Board approved the construction of the new Belmont Arena. The Islanders broke ground on September 23rd, later that year.
Since then, every picture, video, and article concerning the recently-named “UBS Arena” has incited nothing but happiness and excitement. Each shot of the building looks more complete than the last, and the players are excited about it too. Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, and Brock Nelson all signed contract extensions with the hopes of playing on Long Island again.
It comes at the right time too, as the Islanders have become consistent playoff contenders, perhaps even contending for that glorious fifth cup in the distance.
No; none of this is really news, but as a fan, it’s always great to know that the team you root for is heading in the right direction, and to write about it is always fun.
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