Joe Pantorno- Eyes on Isles
There were plenty of Islanders fans going into Saturday night’s preseason game against the Devils at the Barclays Center with plenty of mixed emotions. A legion of fans practically grew up in the Nassau Coliseum.
That is home. So of course an Islanders home game anywhere else, especially in Brooklyn, was set to provide a bit of culture shock.
After Saturday night, it was like the fans have come home from a wealthy relative’s house.
Walking in, there was awe of the sheer size of the place as the upper levels seem to expand towards the heavens.
There’s a chance to go in the pool and check out all the awesome toys as fans are welcomed with countless concession stands, state of the art video technology and seats that don’t sag six inches off the floor.
The food was good, well the hot dogs were at least. Then again, you really can’t screw up a hot dog, but even that tasted a little better than the one’s at the Coliseum.
Spending a decent amount of time, there was a feeling that one could most definitely deal with this new setting. The train ride was filled to the brim with blue and orange and it seemed that the fans were on a pilgrimage together. Everyone was about to experience something life-changing, but they were doing it together.
The PA voice was the same, the organist, who was in full view made the trip from Uniondale. Couldn’t tell you about the goal horn and song as the Islanders couldn’t find the back of the net. But something was lacking and it seemed everyone in the building felt it.
Energy was lacking. Granted, it was a preseason game, the train ride provided a feeling that this would be one of the rowdiest contests September hockey would ever see.
But as the fans saw the fancy new venue with its sleek look and its vest and tied workers and things became more civil. No ludicrous chants, no real spark.
There were more folks than ever wearing blazers and plaid, button-down shirts and dresses. How many girls wore dresses to catch a game at the Coliseum?
So when time was spent at the rich relative’s home and with all the fancy new things, after a while, you just wanted to go home. Midway through the second period, comments were audible, “I want to go back to the Coliseum.”
During the third period, while being down 3-0, “This place is gorgeous, but it’s not the Coliseum.”
On the train home: “It’s not the Coliseum.”
The Barclays Center is awe-inspiring and compared to the Coliseum in Uniondale, it seems Roman. There is no question that the team will draw in Brooklyn. But will the Long Island passion follow?
The betting man in me is saying not only will it follow, but new passion will be infused. There are two years for Barclays to work out the kinks evident in its initial hockey presentation. There are too many smart men on both sides of the fence for that to go untouched.
When the move is official and the Islanders start to call Barclays Center home, everything will be as grand as the facility itself.