Nassau Veteran´s Memorial Coliseum
Nassau Veteran´s Memorial Coliseum
Ever since the New York Islanders joined the NHL during the wide expansion of the 70s the team has seen everything one could imagine. The quick rise to glory, the years of the dynasty in the early 80´s with four consecutive Stanley Cups and the deep fall to the bottom of the league with one ownership-change after another in the 2nd part of the 90´s.
Before two asian investors took the team over prior to the 2000/2001 season the team was owned by a Steven Gluckstern investment group. Management trimmed the payroll below 15 million dollars, the lowest in the NHL, and fan-favorites such as Zigmund Pallfy were traded for cheaper players with a lot less talent. By this management tried to stress that without a new arena deal in place there is no way the team can remain competitive and break even financially, but the fans also made their point and stayed home. After the team had averaged about 12.000 fans the season before, the first season with an attendance increase in years, only 3.500 season-tickets were sold for the upcoming season and the Islanders ranked-dead-last in the NHL attendance-wise, often drawing crowds of 6.000 or less, and official counts revealed that an some nights only about 3.000 people were in the building.
We can only hope that the new ownership group takes a bit more pride and is willing to
invest at least enough money to ice a somewhat competitive team. The fans will probably
return once they sense that there is serious management once again, even if the on-ice
success might be a couple of seasons removed. Signs of these could already be seen in
2000/2001 when attendance was up 17% again, and with the aquisitions of Mike Peca and
Alexei Yashin in the summer of 2001 at least some talent returns to the island.
Tips for visitors:
If you wish to attend a game on the Island you shouldn´t have any problems getting tickets at all. Only games against the Rangers will result in sellouts far in advance, other than that there might not be another sellout all year long. Local rivals as the Flyers or Devils will also get a nice number of people to the arena, but a sellout shouldn´t be expected.
The Nassau Veteran´s Memorial Colisseum is a very old and intimidating constructure. The arena is small, all seats are rather close to the ice and the arena can get extremly loud when a good crowd is on hand. Due to the low ceiling the noise sounds louder than it might really be, atmosphere-wise it´s defintly a promising place. If the Rangers, Flyers or Devils are in town, I would probably prefer to visit the Islanders over the Devils on the other side of Manhatten any given night, but for games against weak teams I cannot give the same advice, the crowds are just too small to turn the game into a real experience. On the other side you can always expect to get a good return on your ticket-price on a normal game-night due to the fact that you have more or less a free choice for a seat. I would recommend that you just stay on your seat in the first period, keep an eye for empty rows below you and move there between periods.
One more word about the Rangers vs Islanders-game: with both teams having very opposing fan-groups you can expect a lot of chanting ("Rangers suck" vs "Let´s go Rangers" "60 million" (really great chant the Islanders-fans put on when they played 3:0 vs a lowly Rangers team that was about to miss the playoffs for a 2nd year in a row in 98)) and I even had an Islanders fan shooting me with a water-pistol from a car when I walked around the area prior to a game there (with my Rangers-jersey). It´s probably the closest feeling to an european atmosphere you can get, maybe Chicago vs Detroit or Montreal vs Toronto comes close, but from my own experience the Rangers vs Islanders is definetly the best of the pack. A playoff-series between both teams would set hockey-New-York on fire, but with both teams performing the way they are at the moment that might not happen until 2050. Gotta be satisfied with the Yankees playing the Mets for the time being (and neither the Rangers nor the Islanders will have a team-song as "Who let the dogs out", the main reason why the Mets never had a chance to win the World Series 2000 in the first place).
Getting to the New York Islanders is rather easy when you´re located in Manhatten. Just take the Long Island Railroad from Penn Station (underneath Madison Square Garden). The train-ride should take about 40 minutes and you need to get off at "Hempstead". From there you have to take a taxi to the arena which should cost no more than 5 dollars per person. All in all the trip might be around 15 dollars. The arena itself has 7.000 parking spaces, more than one per fan on many nights.
In the longterm a new arena will be constructed, at least if the current owernship situation remains stable for a long period of time (meaning more than a year on Long Island). The team definetly doesn´t have a lot of sources to create revenue at the current arena, but if they had a new arena at the moment they probably wouldn´t be able to sell any corporate suits anyways considering the fact that the team doesn´t offer a lot of hope when you take a quick glance at any given night´s lineup. The new ownership tried to improve the situation by landing Alexei Yashin and Mike Peca but the team had to surrender quiet some young talend for the two "stars". And when you don´t have a lot of talent in the first place giving up a bunch of it puts you in a situation where you have 3-4 great players on the ice together with two or three lines that can´t pass straight. At least the commitment to investments in players seems to be there again.
Ticket prices are still pretty high on the Island. Go for the cheapest ones for 15
dollars and move down, everything else is a waste of money on most nights. For detailed
price-information turn to the team´s webpage.
Seating-chart of the arena:
Sitzplan zur Verfügung gestellt von www.eishockey.com.
Links to the team:
Tickets (for Rangers-games or other hot-selling tickets): www.ticketmaster.com