Islanders play a hockey game in Brooklyn, sky doesn’t fall

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.

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12 comments on “Islanders play a hockey game in Brooklyn, sky doesn’t fall

  1. Wouldn’t rule out some form of standing room/”party deck” just a bit beyond the glass (after some permanent club seats are set up, of course.

    Looking at pictures, it’s amazing how striking the off-centre scoreboard is. I kinda shrugged that until seeing it, it is a bit off-putting

  2. Those corner seats angled away from the goals are pretty freaky, too.

    Now I’m wishing I’d gone, just for the bizarreness factor. Though I guess it’ll be routine soon enough.

  3. Yeah, now that you mentioned it, looking a the bottom left of the image I posted, if you’re in row 3 of the straight section and row 1 of the angled section, you’ll spend 1/3 and 2/3 of the game respectively looking pretty much straight at someone else.

  4. The main thing is the Islanders will have a modern home. Is it perfect? No but as an Islander fan, it beats the site lines ( TV) from Quebec City, Kansas City or Seattle. Not to mention the deal for the Coliseum is something that almost everyone can agree with ( very unusual in a year where there will be a close political race for County Executive and the Legislature). Assuming it passes muster with the Nassau County Financial Board ( and since a Mangano opponent got replaced as the head, and it was a 19-0 vote I would be amazed if it isn’t) it may be a win for all involved ( except the person who loses that election).

  5. Was at the game-sat in partially obstructed view seats-you could not see the end of the rink behind the goalie-similar to MSG prior to the renovation.

    Speaking to Islander fans at the game who are from Long Island, I am unsure they will be willing to take the LIRR to Brooklyn at higher ticket prices once the move is made.

    Once the Coliseum is renovated, the best solution would be to play all weeknight games in Long Island and weekend games in Brooklyn.

    However, would Wang and Ratner be willing to do so? Although ticket prices in Nassau would probably be the same or higher-with no discounting of tickets in Nassau for obstructed view seats-suite revenue would be considerably less since the renovation, I believe, calls for no new luxury suites, but renovation of the existing ones.

  6. “Once the Coliseum is renovated, the best solution would be to play all weeknight games in Long Island and weekend games in Brooklyn.”

    While that might work for Islanders fans, I’m not sure it would for the arena – Barclays is going to have a much easier time booking concerts on weekends than on weeknights. So it would kind of defeat the purpose of bringing in the Islanders to help fill empty dates on the calendar.

  7. What, have fans stop off at the game on the way home from work? Maybe – what % of LI residents work in the city these days?

  8. 300,000 people a day take the LIRR, so there’s no lack of commuters coming in from/going back to LI every day. But I can’t imagine that more than a few games (if any) would be played in LI every year.

    I was at the game also, and it was fun. I spent a lot on the tickets (it being the “inaugural” game and all), so I was sitting close to mid-ice and the scoreboard was enormous and hanging over me, so I didn’t have any issues with centering, etc. But I can see how there would have been issues sitting way up or off to the sides; if i go again, that’s where I will be sitting.

    But the fact that value-engineered the building down to be less than optimal for hockey is ludicrous.

    I can believe how small and awful the bathrooms were, though. They don’t seem to be designed with peak traffic flow in mind, which seems absurd in a modern facility.

  9. Yeah, I noticed that when I saw Neil Young and Patti Smith there last winter: The upstairs bathrooms, at least, are at the narrowest point of the corridor, which means inevitable bottlenecks as people trying to get to the concession stands try to push their way past people waiting in line for the restrooms.

  10. “What, have fans stop off at the game on the way home from work? Maybe”

    I’d say more for having two different fanbases, presumably easier for folks in Brooklyn to stop in after work on a subway or transit on a weeknight, and let people drive in the weekend.

  11. I’d be very surprised if either Wang or Ratner care much whether the Hempstead fans are willing to travel to Brooklyn. Relocation is all about extracting money from a new group of (hopefully more affluent, but this might be one instance where that is not the case) fans.

    Some leagues have even enshrined this in their relocation fee related bylaws… “the fee will be the calculated value of the new market less the value of the old one”.

    See fans? You are just like cotton, tobacco or FCOJ… a commodity to be traded. And apparently, you/we willingly accept that treatment…

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