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Will the Islanders return to the Coliseum full-time next year? The rumors begin, as attendance in Brooklyn lags.

So, what should we make of this 11/5/18 Metro NY scoop? Source: Islanders could play all home games at Nassau Coliseum next two years:
The New York Islanders could schedule their entire slate of 2019-20 home games exclusively at the Nassau Coliseum, a source with knowledge of the situation has told Metro New York.

As the organization awaits ground to break on their new arena in Elmont, NY on the same grounds as Belmont Race Track, the chances of the Islanders completely leaving the Barclays Center in Brooklyn beginning next season stands at a "70/30" possibility.

When asked, the Islanders denied such a possibility.
Guess who's not queried or quoted? The operators of the Barclays Center: BSE Global, who very much want to fill more dates at the Coliseum, which they also operate, and free up time for events in Brooklyn.

So my money is that the source is arena/BSE CEO Brett Yormark, or a minion.

After all, during the presumed three seasons of Belmont Park construction, they already have a deal for the Islanders to play 21 home games this season in Nassau and 24 each over the next two seasons, closer to their historic fan base.

Lousy attendance

The fact that the Coliseum has been renovated and downsized to 13,900 capacity, well below typical NHL capacity, isn't so meaningful when Barclays attendance is so lousy. Barclays does have more suites, but maybe that's not as much an issue by now, as attention and attendance drop off in Brooklyn. (That said, commenters on Twitter pointed to long lines for the bathroom (still) in Nassau.)

In their first season at Barclays, 2015-16, the Islanders averaged 13,626 fans, then 13,101 in 2016-17, and 12,002 in 2017-18. That meant two seasons ranked third-to-last in the National Hockey League in attendance and, last season, dead last.

It was actually worse than the statistics suggest. A report to bond buyers revealed that the team actually averaged 11,200 gate count the first season.

This year, the downward trend continues; after six games, the Islanders are averaging only 10,484 fans per home game, according to ESPN, easily last in the league. The next-to-last team is at 12,846. True, Islanders' attendance typically picks up as the season goes on and the playoff race shapes up, but the fact that the Isles are leading their division hasn't driven fan attendance.

This season's 21st home game in Nassau, on 2/28/19, was belatedly moved from Barclays for reasons not officially announced but surely to accommodate Long Island fan interest in former star John Tavares, arriving from Toronto. 

The first Nassau game is not until 12/1/18. After mid-February, all the games will be on Long Island. (Not sure about playoffs.)

The broader sentiment

The possible move to Nassau reflects not just Barclays sentiment but that of others, including Newsday sports columnist Neil Best, who wrote 11/3/18 after covering the the Islanders’ Alumni Weekend:
Former goalie Glenn “Chico” Resch compared Barclays Center, where the alumni were honored at the first intermission Saturday, to a temporary rental while waiting for one’s dream house to be completed.
Even before that, Newsday sports columnist Mark Hermann after the home opener wrote 10/7/18 Let's make this the last Islanders home opener in Brooklyn:
Everybody who has a say-so should ensure that the Islanders never begin another season in Brooklyn. Entire sections of empty seats behind the Honda, still preposterously parallel-parked just beyond the goal line, symbolized why the start of this season should mark the beginning of the end of the Islanders’ stay in Brooklyn.
Amend the contract. Change the percentage of games scheduled to be played on Atlantic Avenue from half to zero. It is what the players want, what the fans desperately want and even what Barclays Center executives want. Admit that this was a huge mistake — with one possible bright side (more on that in a minute) — and send the team home to Long Island, full-time and forever.
The upside, suggested Hermann, is that the Barclay Center's "sweetheart deal" might have helped the Islanders' new owners buy the team and thus put them on the path for the new arena.

Hermann's conclusion piles on the problems in Brooklyn:
That said, enough is enough. Enough of the limited-view seats. Enough of shivering on the railroad platform in Jamaica, enough of the off-center scoreboard, enough of the sketchy ice.
After Mathew Barzal said on Friday that the skating surface in Raleigh is “the worst ice in North America,” an Islanders teammate chuckled and told Newsday’s Andrew Gross, “He hasn’t played at Barclays in a while.”

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