Anybody who knows me understands just how much the Nassau Coliseum means to me. I basically grew up in that building through the late 70’s and the 80’s attending so many events whether it was the Islanders, New York Arrows soccer, concerts, the circus and other shows. The building continued to be like a second home to me in my professional career covering the Islanders while also doing radio play by play for New York Saints lacrosse and New York Dragons Arena Football.
I know the place, even after renovations, like the back of my hand and the amount of memories I have from Coliseum experiences seems to be endless. So when it comes to where the Islanders should play their home games should they qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I think you could figure out which way I would lean. However, I’m not the one that will ultimately choose between Barclays Center and NYCB Live, Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Like myself, I think most Islanders fans would choose “The Barn” over Brooklyn for a number of reasons, mainly because the Coliseum was, is again, and even after the eventual move to Belmont will always be “Home”. But if the Islanders do get to the playoffs, and they’re currently in first place in the Metropolitan Division in case you didn’t know, the NHL will have the final say on the venue but there will be a discussion between the league, the Islanders, and BSE Global, the organization that operates both facilities.
This decision will come down to common sense against the bottom line.
From a common sense point of view, the number to consider is 13,917. That is the season capacity of the renovated Coliseum and just about all of the games that the Islanders have played there this season have been sellouts. The atmosphere for the games at the Coliseum has been off the charts. It’s been loud and the Islanders have enjoyed a lot of success on the ice.
If you asked President and General Manger Lou Lamoriello, Head Coach Barry Trotz, the players, and of course the fans, the overwhelming if not unanimous choice would be to play in Uniondale and there are a plethora of reasons why. Playing at the Coliseum gives the Islanders a home ice advantage, it’s right next to their practice facility at Eisenhower Park, the players would be close to their homes, and the fans could drive to the games while also having the chance to tailgate and blowing the roof off the building with noise.
I’m not sure how owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky will look at this. Obviously their long time focus is on the building of the new arena next to Belmont Park but the current team is in the middle of doing something special and you would like to think that they would want to give the team every opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs. That’s not to say that the Islanders couldn’t make a run while playing at Barclays Center, but playing the games ON Long Island and in their former and currently temporary home would seem to give the team a big lift.
Now to the bottom line.
The Barclays Center has more seats (15,795 including the ones with obstructed views) and luxury boxes which means more revenue from ticket sales. That could ultimate turn out to be the deciding factor as the NHL has to make their clients and sponsors happy. The more seats you have, the more revenue and the more VIP’s you can take care of. While it seems as if the BSE Global people would love to see the Islanders play more games at the Coliseum, they’re probably looking at these playoff games as one (or depending on when Belmont is done two or three) more opportunities to cash in on the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s nice that some politicians have weighed in writing letters to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman asking him to make sure that the Islanders home playoff games take place at Nassau Coliseum but the reality is that the politicians (and let’s remember why the Islanders left the Coliseum in the first place) and fans can write all the letters they want asking for playoff games at “The Barn”, it really comes down to what the NHL and to a certain extent what the Islanders and BSE Global wants.
The fans want the Coliseum and they’ll pay top dollar for tickets.
The Islanders coaches and players want the Coliseum because they want those playoff hungry fans in the building to make life miserable for the opposing team.
Now the question is what does the NHL want, what does Islanders ownership want and what does BSE Global want?
I would say the bottom line is the odds on favorite which would mean the Barclays Center, but perhaps common sense can pull off the upset. The Islanders are going to play their final 12 regular season home games at Nassau Coliseum and then could potentially go back to Brooklyn for the playoffs.
It makes no sense but it will make a lot of dollars and cents.