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Closure of potential Islanders arena is needed

Leslie Monteiro

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The Islanders are playing in Long Island for the first time in three years Saturday evening when they play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the refurbished NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum.

Forgive the players if they feel like they are finally playing a home game. If they feel that way, it’s because playing at Barclays Center feels like playing a road game where there is no home-ice-advantage and where not many fans show up to an ill-equipped hockey arena.

There are going to be so many testimonials about finally feeling like they are home and how special that barn is for these guys. Some will be heartfelt, and some will be cliche-like.

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If it does not indicate it was a mistake playing at Barclays Center, then what is?

Saturday night will provide temporary relief from talk about the new arena at Belmont, but sooner or later, this issue is going to come to the forefront. It’s not feasible in today’s game for the Islanders to survive by playing in the refurbished Coliseum. Not when so many teams have new arena that have so many luxury suites and so much revenue for the Islanders to contend.

The Islanders have not raised a stink about it. They are trying to be optimistic that the Belmont arena will come to fruition since they know by making a ruckus out of it, the politicians will not be inclined to give them that arena.

That’s all well and good, but the Islanders are not going to be patient forever. Already, the Islanders fans have grown tired of talking about it. It’s been months since they talked about the arena yet, there has not been anyone shoveling to get the arena started.

The MTA has yet to provide answers about providing transportation to Belmont. That’s been the sticking point so far.

Make no mistake. If the MTA can not provide train service to Belmont, there will not be an arena. It would be pointless to build an arena without public transportation. Public transportation is essential for the arena to draw well.

A good example of that is Prudential Center out at Newark, which is where the Devils play. The arena is a walking distance from Newark Penn Station, and that’s why the Devils are able to draw well. When trains such as Amtrak, PATH and NJ Transit along with NJ Transit buses are available to go to Prudential Center, people are going to come and spend a night at Newark,. People come from the city or Boston or Washington D.C. or Philadelphia to spend a night at the new arena.

It’s what Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin envision happening if the arena is built. The Islanders can create a college gameday atmosphere with the new arena with so many people coming in through public transportation. That’s why MTA has to get the Belmont transit proposal approved.

So far, there has not been any inkling it won’t happen and there has not been any inkling it will happen. Everything is at a hold pattern. No one knows when all of this is going to end.

Sooner or later, there has to be a decision. Either build the arena or don’t. Fans are already tired about hearing arena talks when they want to enjoy the game. The players and coaches are going to grow weary about it if they haven’t already.

It’s actually discouraging there has not been an answer after all this summer of talk of building a new arena. No one wants to hear promises. No one wants to be patient. This arena talk has grown old forever.

The Islanders are trying to make this work because they really don’t want to move to Kansas City, Quebec or Connecticut. Ledecky and Malkin brought the team for the purpose of making money in New York, not to mention they want to be the guys that founded the new Belmont Arena. They certainly don’t want to be the villains that moved the Islanders.

But they are not going to be patient forever, and no one can blame them.

Long Island can’t waffle, either. Pick a position whether is build it or don’t.

We are not saying get a new arena or don’t. We just want closure once in for all.

We thought we got that by playing at Barclays Center, but that turned out to be a disaster that the Islanders and Hempstead decided to give this one more college try.

Here’s hoping this becomes opportunity rather than another tired grandstanding by both parties.

Leslie Monteiro is a syndicated sports columnist who writes about the Tri-State area teams for the Upstate Courier. He is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and can be reached on Twitter @MongoGoesInSane.