When I heard the news that the New York Islanders would be moving two counties over in 2015, finally ending the franchise's tenure at the Nassau Coliseum, I had mixed feelings. It was the same feeling I had when I moved out of my childhood home.
It's hard leaving the only home you've ever known behind. But unlike the run-down studio apartment I moved into, the Islanders are trading up with their move to the Barclays Center.
Friday night's preseason game there was my first venture to the Brooklyn arena, so here are a few comparisons to the Coliseum that stood out to me:
1. At the Door: First Impressions
Barclays Center: Who's ready for some hockey?
The first thing you see after you have your ticket scanned at the Barclays Center (as long as you're looking straight ahead) is the scoreboard hanging over the ice. To me it was honestly the equivalent of a kid walking down Main Street at the Magic Kingdom and getting his first glimpse of Cinderella Castle.
After years of not being able to see any part of the game area until the usher was showing me to my seat, seeing the scoreboard upon entering the arena got me pumped up. It didn't hurt seeing Shannon Hogan sitting in our view of the scoreboard or the Foxwoods Bar just off to the right, either.
Nassau Coliseum: Which way to the cafeteria?
As excited as I am to walk through the doors of the Nassau Coliseum to see Islanders hockey, I can't help but feel like I've entered a high school hallway. The colors are drab, the space cramped, and nothing catches your eye. I don't even get the feeling I'm at a hockey game until I walk up the ramp towards my seating section.
2. Concession and Facilities
Barclays Center: How am I supposed to decide what to eat from all these choices?
I was shocked by how many different selections of food a fan has to choose from at Barclays. You can eat good ol' stadium food, barbecue, Mexican, Cuban, Italian, deli...hell, they even have the Boomer and Carton Kitchen, whatever kind of food that is.
Yet coming from the Coliseum, the best part about the food stands themselves is the fact they have ropes and organized lines. No more wild lines out into the middle of the hall.
The bars stand out at Barclays. The Foxwoods Bar right when you enter the arena is a welcome sight. There's also the 1876 Budweiser Bar, which has three handfuls of beers on tap. My favorite may have been the Stoli bar located on the main concourse, with possibly every flavor of Stoli vodka ever made.
Need to use the restroom? Well, there are plenty of them around. And even if there is a line to get into the restroom, the Barclays restrooms have wide open entrances, sans doors. If you've ever waited on a Nassau Coliseum restroom line, you'll appreciate that fact.
Nassau Coliseum: Where does the concession line end and the through traffic begin? And do I HAVE to touch that door?
The mission one undertakes to get something to nosh on at the Coliseum is a formidable one. Your first obstacle is trying to find the end of the line at the concession stand, as they tend to just run together when you get toward the back of the lines.
Your next problem is having to let all of the through traffic pass in front of you as you wait to order your food. As for food selection, they have increased their options in recent years, but wraps and pizza still don't match up with what Barclays is bringing to the table.
As for making a pit stop, who doesn't love when it's their turn to hold open the disgusting door that leads into a Coliseum restroom? It's almost as good of a feeling as when you realize that the line for the restroom is wrapping around the winding Coliseum hallway, ensuring a double-digit-minute wait to use the potty.
The Coliseum does have a couple of decent bars. Doolin's Pub is nice enough, and Knucklehead's has a decent selection of spirits at their bar. But again, not on the same level as the Barclays Center.
3. Game Time
Barclays Center: This is what craftsmanship from the 2000's feels like?
The first thing you notice is that the arena as a whole (seats, scoreboards, etc) are appealing to the eye. Then you quickly realize that the arena is setup like a Picasso. The ice is off-center with the seats, the scoreboard is off-center with the ice, and each end of the arena has points and cutouts where seating sections and luxury boxes exist.
The weird layout causes some sight line issues, but for the most part if you're seated in 85 percent of the arena, viewing the ice is not be a problem. Truthfully, even in the Coliseum, if you're seated farther towards one end, you'll have an issue seeing what's going on in the opposite corner.
The atmosphere as a whole seems a lot more sophisticated. Children hockey players who had issues skating on ice and the Ice Girls were your intermission entertainment. The arena didn't seem to get as loud as the Coliseum does, but it was a preseason game. I'm wondering if rocking out the Barclays could be a problem in the future.
The championship banners were there, as was a Jay-Z "8 straight sellouts" banner which just seemed like a mockery of Billy Joel's Coliseum banner.
Nassau Coliseum: When does Will Ferrell from Semi Pro pop out and fight a bear?
It's 2014, but a game at the Nassau Coliseum still feels kind of like 1991. It feels more like sitting on bleachers around a hockey rink than it does the plush, comfortable seating of modern arenas. The exact oval shape of the stands and single concourse allows for good viewing of the whole ice from most seats, the oft-noted "great sight lines" that are part of the Coliseum's calling card.
What Barclays Center offers in pizazz, the Coliseum brings in shenanigans. The contests, the songs, the intermission entertainment may all be oldies, but not so much goodies.
What will most be missed about the Coliseum is the noise. When going well, the Coliseum sounds like its going to explode with pro-Islander chatter, and hearing what's going on on the ice is always a plus.
What the Islanders fan is gaining in the move to Barclays Center far outweighs what we're leaving behind.
There are no more Tuscan Dairy goals. No more Stiffler's mom doing commercial break interviews. Gold Hair Gary isn't banging on the glass at opposing players, either. However Stencil Sign Steve was sitting a few rows below me in Section 6 of the Barclays Center, bringing a tiny piece of the Coliseum with him.
Brooklyn also isn't where the Islanders won their four Stanley Cups. But with only three players on the Isles roster who were actually alive when they won that last Cup, maybe it's time to move on.
The Nassau Coliseum will always be the Dynasty's home.
Maybe it's a good thing that this team is about to move into a home of their own.