You’d be hard pressed to find someone who fawns over Nassau Coliseum in its current condition. It’s old, it smells funny, it leaks – it needs to be renovated from the top to the bottom and back up again. Islanders owner Charles Wang should move the team to a new building that’s deserving of a modern NHL franchise. What was good in the 70s and 80s isn’t good in the 2010s, and that isn’t just a reference to the Islanders’ record, either. It’s time for an upgrade in arena.
Unfortunately for Islanders fans, that arena upgrade was never going to happen at its present location. It was just a matter of time until the team relocated, but where? Would the once-proud franchise leave to go to Kansas City? Seattle? Quebec? No. It would go someplace closer, somewhere very different compared to its current home. It would go to Brooklyn.
An arena grew in Brooklyn; the Barclay’s Arena was set to host a Devils/Islanders game this preseason to give a hockey setup a test run. It will be waiting until January for a duo of games between SKA St. Petersburg and Dynamo Moscow to do so, but who needs a test run when you have a lease agreement with a brand new arena?
Does it matter that the arena is 500 seats smaller than Winnipeg’s MTS Centre? Does it matter that the sight lines for hockey are terrible and that there will have to be a good deal of retooling for the game before 2015-2016 season. But retooling there will be, and chances are very good that the excitement of a team in a new locale will bump attendance up for the team.
Sadly for the blue collar fans of the Isles, the new arena is about an hour away and involves a good deal of travel to get there. While the team gets to keep their name (per the insistence of the NHL), their traditions and culture are gone. This isn’t the move from Mellon Arena to CONSOL Energy Center. That was a bittersweet recognition that it was time for a new arena and for the old one to come down. Those buildings were practically next to each other, and the Penguins fan base had no further to travel. Not like that matters, because their fan base is huge and widespread thanks to recent success.
The Islanders haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1984. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and have finished last in the difficult Atlantic Division for five seasons in a row. They have a ton of promise, though – and the new fans in Brooklyn are hopping in at just the right time. But those fans aren’t what make the Islanders special.
The dedicated fans who file into Nassau are what make the Islanders special. The grit of the team, the determination to improve, Jack Capuano’s hair – they’re the working class team of the NHL. And they’re fantastic that way. In their shiny new arena with their probable new hipster fans they aren’t the Islanders. Long Island is. Nassau is. And it’s sad that era’s gone. But hey, they liked the Islanders before the Islanders were cool, so take that, Brooklyn hipsters.
Photo courtesy of The New York Times.
|Like PDL on Facebook||Follow PDL on Twitter |||Email PDL|
Heck... I'm in Maryland and I am going to go to more games in Brooklyn than in Hempstead.
Am I not part of the working class fans? I grew up crossing two rivers and three bridges to see the dynasty. It's also a bit snarky to all-of-a-sudden give a sympathetic voice to a population who voted NOT to build a new arena for this franchise. The Isles were not wanted in Nassau. That town and county HAD their chance to keep them and they blew it. Not that FINA would have let it happen anyway.
I can also vouch that this is also exactly like the Caps move. The Cap Centre was almost impossible to get to by mass transit and was a terrible drive (much like FedEx Field now). Today it's almost impossible to imagine going to see the Caps by any other means other than the DC Metro. It's very convenient and I can get to the arena in 30 minutes from my house which is 25 miles away.
This is a great move by the Isles and I applaud Charles Wang for keeping the team local and giving it the best situation possible while at the same time rising above the dim politicians in Nassau and Hempstead. I will now join Amtrak's frequent passenger program, or whatever they call it so I can head up to Brooklyn as much as possible to see this team with so much potential play in a state-of-the-art arena.
few things should be noted:
1. this is much like the Washington Capitols move.
2. it was between Brooklyn or out of NY entirely. Nassau was no longer financially feasible for Charles
3. Charles was on-site for Barclays testing the ice setup, despite the fact the preseason game was cancelled.
4. they will be adding about 1000 seats between now and 2015 for ice hockey games. the seats plus 25% higher cost, gives $$ equal to over 17k in Nassau. So keep that in mind and above all, that Isles haven't had more than 15k fans at a game in a dogs age.
5. hardcore fans will make move. Brooklyn commute is NO different than any NYR fan who lives on LI going to a game. Yes, it is a fan adjustment, especially to those in Suffolk. But despite it changing the live audience, chances are they will stay tuned and be fans... just differently.
Nassau did NOT make the Isles special. What made the Isles special was the dynasty which electrified Nassau. Nassau has been dying a slow death by a thousand blades in the last decade thx to political infighting and debt, and losing their only professional sports team is just another nail in a coffin.
Uh... wrong island, dude. Long, not Staten. And Brooklyn's technically on it, so the Islanders fans will be spared the agony of having to cross a river.
...which is fortunate, because if one of them decided to bring a friend, they'd have to split up into two cars and then the tolls really start adding up.