NY Sports Day
Peter Schwartz

Schwartz: Belmont Still Needs To Happen For The Islanders

As I sat down in my seat last Tuesday night before the Islanders/Flames game at Nassau Coliseum, I had a feeling that I have had so many times in the past. I looked around and I felt “at home” because the building has basically been a second home to my primary residences for me since I was a child. It may sound a little corny but every time I step into the building whether its for a game, a concert, a family show, renovation media tours, practices or press conferences, I get goosebumps.

Nothing lasts forever but the Coliseum’s re-opening in 2017 and the Islanders’ part-time return there this season has been a gift because sometimes you don’t get a second chance to experience something special in your life. Nothing is more important to me in my life than my family and friends, but the Coliseum has been a playground, a meeting place, an office, and a way of life for me for a very long time.

A friend of mine that lives in Philadelphia asked me what it was like to be at the Coliseum on December 1st when the Islanders played their first game at the barn since the playoffs in 2015 and I said to him imagine if the Spectrum came back to life and you were able to go see a Flyers there again. He smiled and said he understood how I felt because he would have felt the same way.

But soon, it really will be time to say goodbye to Nassau Coliseum, specifically as it pertains to the Islanders.

I remember the glory years of the Islanders’ Stanley Cup dynasty and always wondering if those good times were going to last forever and of course they did not. Things change over time and we have to find a way to adapt to change. Sometimes that’s not an easy thing to do because I’m a creature of habit, but there’s going to be a point in time where the Islanders are going to have to cut the cord for good with the barn.

My wife Sheryl has also gone to the Coliseum countless times since she was a child and we’re blessed that we were able to take our sons Bradley and Jared there many times before and after the renovations. And while my two boys will have lasting memories of 1255 Hempstead Turnpike, I’m looking forward to bringing them to the Islanders’ new and future home 13 miles west down the road from Uniondale to Elmont.

While it’s great to be back in the building at Islanders games, it’s not an ideal situation. They’re splitting time between the Coliseum and Barclays Center and that scenario is not going to change until the Islanders get the permanent of their own that they deserve and that’s going to be the new arena at Belmont. The Islanders can’t go on with two homes and wondering where this game will be and where that game will be. They can’t go on planning to play one round at the Coliseum and then subsequent rounds in Brooklyn.

I wish the Islanders could play forever at Nassau Coliseum, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was right in his letter to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. It’s not a major league facility and barring another round of massive renovations including raising the roof, adding seats and suites, and whatever else needs to be done, it never will. That’s why it makes no sense to roll up any more sleeves and spend one more dime fixing up the place because the Islanders deserve a state of the art arena that they can call home and start creating new memories.

I’m going to cherish the next couple or few years getting a chance to see some Islanders games at the Nassau Coliseum but it’s going to be really great seeing the Islanders getting a palace that they can call their own with their own revenue streams and designed the way they want it to look. The Isles will have their 17,000 (like Don Cherry thinks they have now at the Coliseum) or 18,000 seats with all the luxury boxes they need and the fans will have all of the amenities that are lacking at the Coliseum.

Nassau Coliseum will always be home sweet home but the sooner the Islanders can get to Belmont, the better off the franchise will be.


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