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Report: Islanders Owners Partner with Oak View Group to Downsize Nassau Coliseum

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Nassau Coliseum

New York Islanders ownership is joining with Oak View Group on a proposal to downsize the Nassau Coliseum into a music-focused venue following the Islanders move to UBS Arena in 2021, Newsday reported on Tuesday night.

Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke is hoping by joining forces with New York Arena Partners, the group made of Isles ownership, New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon and Oak View Group, it will bolster their proposal. New York Arena Partners is the group building the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park and developing the surrounding area.

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Leiweke’s plan focuses on cutting the Coliseum’s capacity to half of what it is now and the Oak View Group CEO sees the music-focused Nassau Coliseum as “a complement to Radio City Music Hall.”

The Islanders are slated to play their final season before UBS Arena opens at the Nassau Coliseum. There was some concern after Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment closed the Long Island venue in June while they searched for someone to take over the lease of the building.

UBS Arena Puts Islanders Hockey, Fans First

Florida developer Nick Mastroianni II reached a deal with Nassau County to assume control of the lease for the Coliseum last month. On Tuesday he had begun internal meetings to discuss the future of the building, according to Newsday.

Oak View Group began expressing interest in the Nassau Coliseum in July after Leiweke was encouraged to be “part of the solution” by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Leiweke told Newsday. Mastroianni has until October to come with a plan for Nassau and submit it to the county.

The addition of the Islanders’ ownership group adds an interesting wrinkle to the Nassau Coliseum process. If Mastroianni decides not to select the Oak View Group bid, then the Islanders could potentially play in the building with another group running it.

Islanders owner Jon Ledecky has said in the past that he is confident the Islanders will play one final season at the Coliseum.

New York Islanders Owner Jon Ledecky: ‘In Gary We Trust’

During a sit down at the Preview Club in Manhattan with a small contingent of reporters, which included NYI Hockey Now, Ledecky said the focus was on the team’s run to the Stanley Cup and not on thinking about next season and how to honor the final year at Nassau.

“We’re focused on right now with the playoffs. Trying to reach the Stanley Cup Final,” Ledecky said. “In terms of the Nassau Coliseum, there’s just a lot of things going on. I think we’re looking forward to opening up the UBS Arena. … I can tell you there’s been a singular focus on where we are right now.”

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Deal with Coliseum Lease Holder Allows Isles to Play There During Restrictions

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Nassau Coliseum

An agreement between Nassau County and new Nassau Coliseum leaseholder Nassau Live Center LLC would allow for the New York Islanders to use the Coliseum during the COVID-19 restrictions should the NHL season start up in 2021, According to Newsday.

Nassau Live Center LLC, which is run by Florida businessman Nick Mastroianni II, took over operations of the Nassau Coliseum in August after Mikhail Prokhorov owned Onexim Sports and Entertainment shuttered the building earlier this year. The new arrangement between the County and Mastroianni would allow for Mastroianni to forgo the $4 million a month rent payments to Nassau County until at least next summer.

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As part of that, the Islanders would be allowed to play at the Coliseum with or without fans in the building next season. The 2020-21 season is the Islanders final one before they move to UBS Arena at Belmont Park.

In September Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello told reporters that the Islanders would play their final year before Belmont at Nassau Coliseum despite the uncertainty at the time surrounding the use of the county-owned facility.

“We will definitely be playing at the Coliseum next year. That is a confirmation,” Lamoriello said in September.

Off The Record: COVID Affect On NHL Season, Big Names Could Hit NHL Trade Market | NYHN+

The NHL is targeting a Jan. 1 start date, but there is no firm plan in place yet on how the league will start by that date. Among the many aspects the NHL is trying to plan for is whether or not they will use hub cities to begin the year or have teams play in their home arenas.

An amendment was also agreed upon, according to Newsday, that would give Mastroianni “until six months after the state lifts restrictions on arena events” to submit a plan to the County for the Nassau Coliseum. Oak View Group, which is a part owner and operator of the Islanders new arena at Belmont Park, proposed downsizing the Coliseum to a 5,000 seat music-focused venue.

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Iona Basketball Coach Rick Pitino Buys Islanders Season Tickets

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CHESTNUT HILL, MA - FEBRUARY 04: Louisville Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino during the first half of a college basketball game between Louisville Cardinals and Boston College Eagles on February 4, 2017, at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, MA. Louisville defeated Boston College 90-67. (Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire)

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello is doing more than just selling NHL players on the New York Islanders, it seems he’s selling some of his friends on season tickets.

Legendary college basketball coach Rick Pitino told News 12 that during a recent dinner between himself and Lamoriello that he was convinced to jump on the Islanders bandwagon and purchase season tickets. Pitino was named head coach of nearby Iona College’s men’s basketball program in March.

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“We spent three and a half hours together and I bought Islander season tickets just because of Lou,” Pitino told the Long Island news station. “Now I’m somewhat of a hockey fan, but not over the top. I feel that Lou Lamoriello will bring a Stanley Cup champion to the Islanders and I bought two season tickets with their new place at Belmont Park.”

Pitino and Lamoriello have a long history together that goes back to both to their days at Providence College. Lamoriello was the athletic director there and hired Pitino to coach the men’s basketball team in 1985.

Rick Pitino is also no stranger to Long Island, having been born in nearby New York City, going to high school at St. Dominic in Oyster Bay and coaching the New York Knicks from 1987 to 1989.

Pitino said in the interview that he had signed up for season tickets for three years, but that the salesperson tried to get him locked in for 10 years. The Iona coached joked that he may not live long enough to see the whole 10 years.

“I said to him, ‘how long do you think I’m going live? I’ve been coaching 43 years,'” Pitino said. “And he laughed. I said ‘I think I’ll stay with the three-year package.'”

The famed basketball coach’s season ticket purchase added to the growing number of people that have bought packages for the Islanders new arena at Belmont Park.

In August, the Islanders announced that 80 percent of season tickets at  UBS Arena had been sold. Ticket sales were boosted by the Islanders run to the Eastern Conference Finals over the summer.

“The unprecedented demand for season tickets adds a new level of excitement about the team. The support from our loyal Islanders fans across the metro NY region has been tremendous,” Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky said in a statement at the time.

While Islanders games are not the must be events that games at Madison Square Garden have been in the past, some notable people have been known to be spotted at games in the past. Former New York Jet Damien Woody has become a vocal supporter of the Islanders.

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been to games in the past, as has Law & Order SVU star Peter Scanavino.

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Final Steel Beam Raised at Islanders’ UBS Arena

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Final steel beam at UBS Arena

The final steel beam was raised to the top of UBS Arena on Friday during a ceremony at Belmont Park.

The placing of the final beam is another significant milestone for the New York Islanders future home. UBS Arena is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season.

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Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were on hand for the “Topping Off Ceremony.” Islanders alumni Butch Goring, John Tonelli and Clark Gillies were also on hand for the event.

It was just over a year ago that the Islanders broke ground on the site next to the famed horse racing track. The arena is part of a larger development project that will include a hotel, shopping district and community space.

“Since that day last September the construction team has erected thousands of pieces of steel and poured over 27,000 cubic yards of concrete,” Ledecky said on Friday. “I am simply in awe of the work done by the men and women building UBS Arena. This will be our home, but it will always be your legacy.”

Construction on the arena was halted on March 27 as part of a statewide ban on nonessential construction during the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed two months later, but did not have an impact on the completion date.

“This represents a point of normalcy,” Bettman said. “It gives a hope and a prospect to focus on for a future that will be bright. What sports and arenas like this represent is people from diverse communities, diverse backgrounds all coming together in a common rooting sensation. A common goal of being together.  It’s what communities and society is all about together.

“This arena and the progress that’s been made is a beacon of hope that yes construction can continue during a difficult time. This represents what will be a return to normalcy for this area and nothing in a time like this can be more important.”

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