Fans Relish Islanders' Homecoming At Renovated Nassau Coliseum
The Islanders played their first of 21 games in the renovated Nassau Coliseum on Saturday night, and fans "celebrated in the most appropriate way possible: with a tailgate and a raucous comeback victory," according to Allan Kreda of the N.Y. TIMES. Longtime fan Leon Bassen said of the win over the Blue Jackets, "Going to Barclays Center, you feel like a stranger in someone’s house. Here, even before you walk in that building, you’re home." Kreda noted the game drew a "capacity crowd of 13,917," and the Isles are "expected to split games over the next two seasons before they move to an 18,000-seat arena adjacent to the Belmont Park grandstand." The Isles have "nine home games remaining in Brooklyn" this season. Nassau Coliseum has undergone a $165M renovation and now "accommodates a league smallest of about 13,900 hockey fans, compared with 16,234 before the Islanders left." The locker rooms have been "refurbished, with the Islanders now using the former visitors’ dressing area" (N.Y. TIMES, 12/2). In N.Y., Brett Cyrgalis noted the renovation "did not change" the venue's character, as the corridors were "just as cramped as ever, and the lines for the bathrooms just as long." The "same problems that led to the Islanders leaving were hardly fixed." But the sight lines "remained terrific, with seats on top of the ice that allowed the fans’ voices to not just be heard, but felt." Islanders coach Barry Trotz said, "Play with that atmosphere all year, that’s at least a dozen points" (N.Y. POST, 12/2).
GOOD TO BE BACK: On Long Island, Mark Herrmann writes the Islanders were "home, truly home, for the first time" since they left for Brooklyn in April '15. The "overwhelming majority of the fans still live on the Island." Hermann, on the team's history at Nassau, "To a ludicrous degree, the franchise violated the first rule of business by making it tough on the customers to get the product" (NEWSDAY, 12/2). Also on Long Island, Andrew Gross wrote the atmosphere was "electric, a Long Island-heavy fan base welcoming the Islanders back to their past and now present home." Isles C Casey Cizikas said of the fans, "That was more than any of us could have anticipated" (NEWSDAY, 12/2).