At this moment, fans cannot attend professional sporting events in New York State because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s a controversial subject as there are a number of states around the country, many if not all with higher infection rates than New York, that is allowing fans at sporting events and that has brought about the debate as to whether or not things could or should change in the near future. With the Jets and Giants playing their home games in New Jersey, the only professional sports team that is currently in-season would be the Buffalo Bills and they of course are playing in front of no fans at Buffalo Bills Stadium.
But Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that he is “100% eager” to see if there’s a way to have some fans attend games at some point this season. The issue not actually having the fans in the stadium because you can spread them out in order to adhere to health and safety protocols that include social distancing and wearing masks. The issue would be getting fans in and out of the stadium safely and not creating a mass gathering so Cuomo will soon tour the stadium and meet with team officials to see if there’s a way to have a limited attendance at some point.
When Could Islanders Fans Return To Islanders Country?:
What does this mean for Downstate New York? It could mean that perhaps as we get closer to whenever the NHL and NBA begin their 2020-21 seasons that there is a chance of some fans being able to go to games at various venues around the area. That would include the possibility that Islanders fans could be in attendance for the final season at Nassau Coliseum before they move to UBS Arena at Belmont Park for the 2021-22 campaign.
Maybe it’s not for the start of the season, but perhaps there could be a time during the upcoming season where New York State’s regulations could change and that would allow some fans to be allowed inside the Nassau Coliseum. It’s a moot point at the moment and there are some important things going on in the country like the upcoming Presidential Election and the ongoing wait for a COVID-19 vaccine. But as the State of New York has flattened the curve since the pandemic started, would sports fans go to games right now if there was limited attendance and you had to wear a mask?
Specifically, would Islanders fans go to games at the Nassau Coliseum if the NHL season was to start on or around January 1st?
For that answer, I took to social media over the weekend and conducted a poll on my Twitter account (@SchwartzSports). I know it’s a small sample size with just 141 votes, but a majority of Islanders fans that took part in the poll revealed that they would absolutely go to games at “The Barn” this coming season.
Again, I’m not sure how scientific this is or if it represents a true cross-section of Islanders Country, but with 70% of the fans who participated saying they would go to games, that has to be something that team ownership and management should take a look at. If the NHL decides to start the season with teams playing at their home rinks, the Islanders would have to prepare for the possibility that they could welcome some fans. It’s probably something that they’re already planning for, but it’s contingent on the NHL announcing plans for the season and New York State changing the regulations when it comes to sporting events.
Islanders Fans Hope To Say Goodbye To “The Barn”:
Much of the Islanders’ sales efforts at this point are geared towards the inaugural season at UBS Arena, but the 2020-21 season would be, for the second time, the Islanders’ final season at Nassau Coliseum and it would be a shame for the fans to not have the opportunity to be at games and say goodbye to “The Barn”. It’s certainly not likely that, at least at the start of the season, 13,917 fans would be allowed to fill the building, but would it be possible for 25% of capacity which would be around 3,500 fans?
New York State has taken a phased re-opening approach during the pandemic and I would think it’s a good sign that, particularly on Long Island, that there are a number of indoor facilities that are now open with reduced capacities including schools, malls, stores, gyms, restaurants, and now movie theatres. You could certainly spread the fans around the Coliseum and there are numerous exits that fans can be directed to use that would avoid a mass gathering upon entry and exit.
I know that going to a hockey game right now is not the most important thing on everyone’s mind, but as we try as a nation to reach whatever that new normal is going to be, going to sporting events is a part of that normality. Islanders fans certainly enjoyed the playoff run this past season watching from home, but you just know that there are so many fans that would love to be able to cheer the team on in person again.
That hasn’t happened since March 7th but hopefully it will happen again soon.