New York Islanders home games at Nassau Coliseum have been a boost to the club, drawing more fans than home games at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
With a new Belmont Park arena not expected to open until the 2021-22 campaign, the Islanders are planning to split their home games over the next three seasons between Barclays Center and the Coliseum. The Coliseum–officially known as NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum because of a naming-rights deal–was the Islanders’ home from 1972-2015 before they moved to Brooklyn. While the Barclays Center’s 2012 opening makes it a far more modern venue, it was originally designed for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and not the NHL, and has been criticized by Islander fans and players alike for providing a poor experience for hockey.
The Islanders are currently last in the NHL in attendance, but their home games at the Coliseum have been met with a positive response. Home games there have recorded a higher per-game average than contests at the Barclays Center, and the Coliseum’s relatively small seating capacity of just under 14,000 for hockey has helped create a unique environment. More from the AP:
In seven games at the Coliseum this season, the Islanders have averaged 13,568 fans with four sellouts of 13,917. They have drawn an average of 10,788 with no sellouts at Barclays Center, which has a capacity of 15,795. Overall, the Islanders are last 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 raved about the Coliseum as one of the old-style arenas that put fans closer to the ice and helps energize the home team. He contends the arena is worth 10-12 extra points over a season compared to elsewhere.
So far, the Islanders are 5-1-1 on Long Island, and 9-6-2 in Brooklyn.
The arrangement calls for the two arenas to evenly split the games for three years. This season, the Coliseum is getting 21, while Barclays is getting 20. It is uncertain what the breakdown will be in ensuing years.
How those numbers hold up over time remains to be seen, but it stands reason that the team’s Long Island fan base–which has by and large never warmed to the idea of traveling to Brooklyn for games–is welcoming the closer proximity that comes with home games at Nassau Coliseum. It could also bode well for the Islanders as they work toward their new arena. The Islanders are hoping to break ground on that project in May.
Image courtesy NYCB Live.
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