It hadn't seemed that long ago since the Islanders played their final game in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a game six victory which saw the team stretch their playoff series with the Capitals to game seven. There was plenty of ambiance as the sellout crowd reached near deafening levels. Alas, the team ultimately lost that game seven on the road which ensured that the fateful game that occurred on April 25th, 2015 would in fact be the last.
Fast forward two and a half months later and the post-coliseum era is almost sort of officially upon us. Yes it was nothing more than a scrimmage between prospects, but it was the first game held in the Islanders new home in the post-Coliseum era. The stadium is not without its faults, but the good seems to outweigh the bad.
The concourses at Barclays are considerably wider and easier to navigate. In addition to that, there are no stands obstructing the aisles. It makes moving around the venue much easier than it ever was at Nassau. While some of the stands in Nassau added a personal touch, there were others that had the tendency to make an individual feel like they were being peddled something at a mall.
Better Public Transportation Access
The transportation to the game is simply fantastic. Anyone in the city can simply get on board the subway and take the 2, 3, 4, 5, B, D, N, Q, or R lines to the Atlantic Center. Those coming from New Jersey can take the PATH into World Trade Center for an additional two dollars, take a brief walk to the Fulton Street station and hop aboard the Lexington Line.
More Food Options
The food options are much improved over the coliseum. Fans will no longer be forced to choose between a hot dog, a pretzel, pizza, or some generic sandwich that comes out of a refrigerator. There are multiple places to choose from which offer Cuban sandwiches, Kosher delicatessen items, boneless Buffalo wings, Italian sausages, and a lot more. For those who still want their hot dogs, pizza, or pretzels, those items are still available and priced competitively with the coliseum.
There were no random garbage bags draped over leaking sinks. That is unfortunately enough to boost it over the experience at the coliseum. Still, the bathrooms at Barclays are incredibly sanitary, though it is odd that with all of the no-touch devices like the paper towel and soap dispensers that the faucets don't have the same feature.
More Comfortable Seating
The seats have cup holders. They also have padding and additional room. They're far superior to what was left in the Coliseum (particularly for those stuck in one of those folding chairs at the end).
The scoreboard at Nassau was rather outdated. The one at Barclays Center is nice and in high definition. There is an additional part at the top of the scoreboard which displays the area which is cut off for those who are sitting in the obstructed seats which is a very nice touch. The scoreboard being off-center doesn't disrupt the experience at all.
The audio is much better than it ever was at the coliseum. There are no randomly buzzing speakers or distorted audio. One can actually make out what the announcer is saying without straining and the volume isn't pumped up to where the amps are clipping.
Cost for Long Islanders
Some fans who are in Long Island will certainly find the costs of public transportation hard to swallow. Those coming from Hempstead will have to pay for two off peak tickets which comes out to $16.50. That's a high price to pay for the convenience and the only other options are to drive in or park somewhere in Queens and take the Subway. Ten one-way tickets can be purchased at a discounted price which brings the total down to $14.05.
Disorganized Box Office
The box office experience was an unmitigated disaster. The agents at the front were telling people that they could buy season tickets at the box office only to find out that wasn't true once they got there. In all actuality people were essentially limited to purchasing one or two games. Different games had to go on different purchases and after one or two purchases people were having their cards declined. Credit card companies saw multiple purchases for hundreds of dollars on one card, thus causing the fraud protections to kick in. One individual who had his card declined was using his American Express which ironically enough is the company that sponsors the box office.
Gone are the cheap ticket options which Nassau offered. Those wanting to sit in unobstructed seats can expect to pay 65 dollars plus for a Tuesday night game against the middling Florida Panthers. Weekend games and rivalry games obviously go for more than that.
The Obstructed Seats
Enough has been made about the obstructed views in certain section, but it bears repeating that there are certain sections where one simply cannot see the goal on their side. Nassau had some obstructed seats back in its day which they were able to fix by lowering the ice. Hopefully Barclays can come up with some type of renovation which will remedy this situation.
Ultimately the relatively new Barclays Center is a considerably nicer venue than the outdated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. While it would have been nice to have a state of the art arena replace the old barn, Hempstead was having none of that. This isn't a bad second option with the most major drawbacks being the price to get to a game and the availability of tickets. Ultimately fans can take solace in the fact that the team is still around while getting the opportunity to play in a venue that makes it feel like they've finally reached the big time.