A tale of two arenas: Island fans prefer the Coliseum


NEW YORK (AP) – Barclays Center is newer, more elegant and offers the best dining options. Nassau Coliseum has history.

With the New York Islanders sharing home games between the two arenas this season, their fans have always been clear about their preference. They make fun of Barclays Center, located in Brooklyn. They still love the renovated Coliseum, which is much more intimate and much more convenient for Islanders fans who remain focused on Long Island.

"It's a hockey arena here," said Peter Rotolo, who was at the Colosseum for a game in January. "Barclays, it's like, the lines of sight are terrible, the seats are terrible. It's a beautiful arena, but it's a basketball arena and a concert arena. This has never been done for hockey.

Fans like Rotolo never fully accepted the Islanders' relocation to Brooklyn in 2015 after the franchise had spent its first 43 years at the Coliseum, winning four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1980 to 1984. They complained about the bad guys. views and many obstructed seats at the arena, built for the Brooklyn Nets, and called for the team to return to the Uniondale Coliseum, some 30 kilometers away, apparently overseas.

They realized their wish with a unique arrangement while the NHL decided to divide the home games between two very different sites. The arrangement is expected to remain in place until the new Islanders Arena at Belmont Park, adjacent to the racetrack, is ready for the 2021-2022 season. Construction should not begin until May.

This means that there are two homes for the Islanders in first place for at least the next two seasons and what's left of it.

"They should never have left," said David Levy, a Melville fan who attended a match at the Coliseum with his son and two nephews. "We used to come here all the time. I'm going to Brooklyn, it's beautiful but it's a very long drive. … it's much more practical. They ruined everything by not rebuilding the arena here. "

The Islanders played their first 11 home games this season in Brooklyn, then began an 18-game streak on December 1, where they share games, before closing their home games with the last 12 games at Long Island. . The final match at Barclays Center will be held Feb. 16 against the Edmonton Oilers, although it has not been announced how the playoffs would be handled.

Josh Rosenberg, who lives about 10 minutes from the Coliseum, said that he would go wherever the team plays, but that he preferred the Coliseum for its proximity and atmosphere.

"I'm coming to Brooklyn from the beginning," said the Freeport resident at Barclays Center. "I mean, it's useless to pay extra for taking the train but I'm an unconditional fan. I will take the Coliseum everyday, but I do not mind traveling here. (The Colosseum has) a better atmosphere. Everyone is excited and the real fans are present. "

The team's relocation to Brooklyn was announced in 2012 after an unsuccessful public funding attempt for a new Long Island arena and zoning approval was rejected for a privately funded development plan that would have included renovations at the Coliseum. It was announced as a 25-year contract and seemed to guarantee the future of the Islanders in New York, while one could consider moving to another city.

Whatever the comfortable charm many have seen in the old Colosseum, the renovations were well received and the noise level was deafening.

The attendance figures reflect the preferences of the fans.

In seven games at the Coliseum this season, the Islanders drew an average of 13,568 spectators, four defeats or 13,917 spectators. They attracted an average of 10,788 people to Barclays Center, which have a capacity of 15,795 people, with no out of stock. Overall, the Islanders rank among the 31 NHL teams with an average attendance of 11,599.

Veteran coach Barry Trotz, in his first year with the Islanders after winning a championship in Washington last season, has touted the Coliseum as one of the old-fashioned arenas that brings fans closer ice cream and helps energize the local team. He argues that the arena earns 10-12 extra points over one season compared to others.

Until now, the Islanders have a score of 5-1-1 on Long Island and 9-6-2 in Brooklyn.

The arrangement provides that the two arenas will share the games over three years. This season, the Coliseum will have 21, while Barclays will be 20. He is not sure of the distribution of losses in the years to come.

BSE Global, which operates both arenas, shares fans' desires to have the team play all of its games at the Coliseum. The NHL opposed the full return of the Islanders to the Coliseum, mainly because of its lower capacity than all other arenas in the league, but accepted the division agreement.

Players also love the Coliseum. The arena and training facilities at Eisenhower Park, one mile away, are less than 30 minutes from their home. In comparison, afternoon in New York, road traffic can last more than 75 minutes to the Barclays Center. Some players travel to Brooklyn on the Long Island Railroad and then drive home.

"At the end of the day, no matter where you play," said former striker Matt Martin. "You have to do your job, do business, and win hockey games. The global approach does not change. "