When the buzzer sounded Monday night, I felt like I had just witnessed the death of someone close to me. I'm not talking about the season, although that hurts too. I'm talking about the Barn. I was angry and depressed so I did the only thing that made sense when grieving a loss: I wrote a eulogy....and delivered it to Kate Murray.
Eulogy for the Coliseum
(February 11, 1972- April 27, 2015)
On Monday, our New York Islanders lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals, ending the series and their season. The end of any season that doesn’t end with the Isles hoisting the cup is painful, but this one especially so because it marks the end of the Islanders tenure as our hometown team. It marks the death of Nassau Coliseum.
The worst part is, we could have saved it. We could have opened the 2015 season in a beautiful new building in the heart of Long Island. But our efforts were foiled at every turn by one politician. One politician who stood in the way of continuing this great history and local tradition. Thank you, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, for sending our Islanders packing.
Sure, a lot of people thought the Coliseum deserved to die. The floors are dirty, the ceiling drips, the chairs are rickety and the bathroom line stretches for miles. But those are our dirty floors; our leaky ceiling; our broken chairs; and our never-ending bathroom line. It was ours because we did it together. We did it with our kids and our friends. Our parents and our neighbors.
The Islanders have always been our team - Long Island's team. New York City has the Yankees, Mets, Nets, Knicks and that bourgie hockey team that plays at MSG. Jersey has the Giants, Jets and Devils. But Long Island had the Isles, and they did us proud. In the early 80’s, the Islanders won 4 straight Stanley cups and the fact that we beat the Rangers three straight times on the way made it even sweeter. Sure, the banners will still hang in the rafters in their new home. Fans, new and old, will be able to honor Bossy and Nystrom, Potvin and Arbour, but it will never be the same.
This could have been stopped.
Love him or hate him, Charles Wang offered solution after solution to redevelop the Coliseum and invested billions in the surrounding area. He was willing to pour millions of his own money to keep the Islanders where they belong. It was win-win: a better, more modern home for the Islanders and a kick start to the Long Island economy.
Unfortunately, Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray said no, no, no, and no. She blocked these efforts at every turn, dragging her feet, creating imaginary hurdles and coming up with enough excuses to make James Dolan blush. She beat down the project for years, and was relentless in her negative publicity campaign that had far more smoke and mirrors than substance. Sadly, her efforts to kill the project succeeded in 2011 and the Islanders eventually had no choice but to leave.
So today we lay the Coliseum to rest, and along with it goes the only team Long Islanders had to call their own. We’ll never forget the memories: the wins, the fights, the Cups, and what it truly meant to Rock The Barn. But, unfortunately, we'll also never forget the failure of Kate Murray.