The inaugural exhibition hockey game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was held on Saturday — Brooklyn’s soon-to-be home team, the New York Islanders, got creamed 3-0 — and if media reports can be trusted, fans were alternately impressed, unimpressed, and just generally weirded out:
- “To me, there’s still no better place to watch a game than Nassau Coliseum, but we’ll see how the new place works out,” longtime Islanders season ticket holder Andrew Caprio told the New York Times.
- “There’s no place for tailgating,” Long Island resident Megan Leach complained to the Times. “You get the creature comforts of a new arena, but I was unimpressed with the spectator area. There were a lot of terrible sight lines.”
- Islander forward Colin McDonald’s dad Gerry says “the sight lines look good for hockey.” (Maybe he had better seats than Leach?)
- Hockey’s debut in Brooklyn seemed to be met with positive feedback from players and fans alike.
- “The fact that I can sit here talking to you in the corridor here and not get bumped into, standing in front of a men’s room with no line, at a sporting event, that’s everything,” one unnamed season ticket holder from Yonkers told the New York Daily News.
- “It’s a hockey rink crammed into a concert hall,” Chris Elwood told ESPN, complaining that he and his daughter and her friends had a hard time seeing the puck at one end of the ice.
- Season ticket holder Amy Zaum of West Hempstead managed to encapsulate the entire range of fan opinion, telling Newsday that the Brooklyn arena is “pretty cool,” that she hopes “they can put the scoreboard on something that moves so it’s not off-center” (don’t hold your breath), that it’s “very sad” to see the Islanders leave Nassau Coliseum and that she’ll “absolutely” go to games in Brooklyn.
If I had to sum it up, given that the game was a sellout and tickets were sky-high (one reason I didn’t check it out myself), it sounds like Islanders fans have given the move a tentative thumbs-up, or at least a tentative “What choice do we have?” For more, see Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder’s excellent report on the opening game — and while you’re at it, check out his analysis of the Daily News’s thinly sourced look back at the Barclays Center’s first year in action, which focuses on anecdotal stories of fan spending but ducks issues like local stores being displaced by landlords seeking all these arena-related riches they’ve been told to expect, but which haven’t so much materialized.