New York Islanders’ New Arena Is Ready To Open

The franchise owners finally get a state-of-the-art building.

The 23-year-long New York Islanders ownership trek to find a new arena is over. The franchise is opening up its new home adjacent to the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, New York. Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, brokered the arena deal. In the mid-1990s Nassau County Republicans came up with the idea of marrying the Islanders ownership to a Nassau Coliseum-Uniondale, New York, redevelopment plan. New York City real estate developer Howard Milstein and Steven Gluckstern bought the Islanders in 1998 with the thought of building a new arena as part of a plan to develop acres of parking lot and other land. Milstein played hardball despite having a 30-year-lease with the county that former owner John Pickett signed in 1985. It turned out to be a bad revenue deal for Pickett and other Islanders owners. Milstein and Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta reached an understanding to build a new arena and develop the area in 1998, but that deal was gone by January 1999 because the two parties could not agree on who should do the arena construction. Milstein sold the team to Charles Wang in 2000. Wang inherited a horrible lease that limited his revenues and looked into another Coliseum redevelopment plan.

Wang attempted to build an arena-village on the 77 acres of Nassau Coliseum property but was derailed by the Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and lost in 2011 a referendum for a new arena. In 2012, Wang signed a 25-year iron-clad deal to move the franchise to Brooklyn. Wang sold the team to real estate developer Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky in 2014. The Brooklyn deal didn’t work, the arena was not built for hockey, Malkin worked with Cuomo and got what other Islanders owners didn’t get. A new arena.

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