For Islanders fans, Saturday was a day to remember.
The Isles’ highly anticipated return to Nassau Coliseum was everything that the fans, players, coaches and the entire organization could have hoped for. The renovated and hockey enhanced barn that was the Islanders’ home for 43 seasons, before the franchise moved to Brooklyn in 2015, was an NHL building once again and it really felt like old times.
In true “Never Say Die-Lander” fashion, the Islanders rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 13,917, the new seating capacity for hockey after the Coliseum underwent extensive renovations from 2015 to 2017. The actually number of seats doesn’t really matter because it sounded like there were 30,000 fans in the building, including when the entire crowd joined in and sung the National Anthem.
The good vibrations actually began long before the Islanders’ stirring comeback as fans started showing up to tailgate in the parking lots during the morning hours. Aside from two pre-season games at the Coliseum, there wasn’t really an opportunity to tailgate at Barclays Center unless perhaps you took a sandwich or grabbed some fast food and brought it the train with you to Brooklyn.
It was a celebration that the fans have been waiting for and they celebrated all day, during the game, and long after the final horn.
This was more than just a throwback night…it was truly a homecoming as the Islanders played the first of 21 home games this season at the building now officially called “NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.” Whether you refer to it as “NYCB Live”, “Nassau Coliseum”, “The Coliseum” or “The Barn,” you only need to use one word in it’s elongated new title.
The plan is for the Islanders to split time over the next three seasons between the Coliseum and Barclays Center but the general expectation and certainly the hope of the fans and players is that the Isles just play at the Coliseum full-time starting next season. If many people get their wish, the Islanders would never step foot into the Barclays Center after the February 16th game against Edmonton and then take up temporary full-time residence at Nassau Coliseum until the new arena at Belmont Park is completed.
It’s great that the Islanders are playing some games at the Coliseum and perhaps they’ll play them all there starting next season, but make no mistake about it…the Coliseum is not the long term solution. The Islanders are going forward with their plans for that new arena project that will give the team the state of the art home that they have been craving and have deserved for so many years.
But in the interim, home is where the heart is.
The Nassau Coliseum is home for the Islanders and that should be their home until Belmont is ready. The barn only has 13,917 seats and 11 suites but isn’t it better for them to fill up the Coliseum every night and have a home ice advantage instead of rows and sections of empty seats in Brooklyn?
Assuming the 21 games are a big hit and success this season, and based on the first game there’s no reason to think that won’t be the case, then why not just open up and modernize some of the other suites that were shuttered when the Coliseum was closed for renovations? Why not add a few more temporary seats around the back of the lower bowl without disrupting the ability for the fans to walk around?
Get the building up to 15,000 seats and add the revenue of more suites and the Islanders would be in good shape, temporarily, at the Coliseum until their spanking new home is completed in 2021.
Saturday was a glorious day for the Islanders and their fans as the return to the Coliseum injected some really good emotions into the franchise. The Nassau Coliseum, was…is…and always will be the home of the New York Islanders. And now that they’re back, it should be full-time on a temporary basis because that’s clearly what the fans and players want. All the parties involved just have to jump on board.
And who knows? Maybe before Belmont is done, the Nassau Coliseum can be the backdrop for something else that the Islanders are in search of…
A fifth Stanley Cup parade down Hempstead Turnpike!
Welcome home Islanders!