For years - decades really, the dilapidated Nassau Coliseum was viewed as one of the worst, if not the worst arena in the league. Sure, it had great sight lines, and the Old Barn rocked during the playoffs, but it lacked all the modern-day amenities that newer arenas had. Islanders fans understood the criticism but would proudly defend the Coliseum to the very end.
NY Islanders: Study ranks UBS Arena the worst venue for hockey fans
Such criticisms for the Isles' home rink were forever supposed to end with the opening of their new home in Elmont, NY. However, a study from CanadaSportsBetting.com has ranked UBS Arena at Belmont Park, the two-year home of the New York Islanders, the worst venue in the NHL for hockey fans based on their criteria.
Now before you completely discount the study, let's point out it was based on the average price of an ounce of beer; proximity to public transit; proximity to an external restaurant; and availability of dedicated on-site parking.
Now what do you think?
UBS Arena is a fourth-generation arena built specifically for hockey - and Islanders fans. It's magnificent. It's everything an Islanders fan dreamt it would be - and it has so many bathrooms!
But you can understand based on the factors that the study was based on how it ranked 32nd in the league. It's not cheap. When taking into consideration ticket prices, food, drinks and parking, UBS Arena was ranked the 10th most expensive in the league based on the TMR 2021-22 Fan Cost Index.
There's a ton to do inside the new arena, with no shortage of bars and restaurants, as ESPN's Greg Wyshynski pointed out when he attended the home opener back in November 2022. But an external restaurant? In downtown Elmont? Not so much.
The parking situation is getting better and will continue to get better.
However, during the first year, getting in and out of the arena was a bit of a nightmare as the parking garage was being built. Fans, on many nights, resorted to parking on the streets of Elmont to avoid the hassle of getting in and out of the arena parking lot. Even now, taking shuttle buses to and from the Emerald Lot is not an ideal fan experience.
The LIRR having a dedicated stop at Belmont is a huge boost - and now it goes in both directions, east and west, throughout the season. Fans are still getting used to it, and we should see its use pick up over the coming years, but for now, it still feels a bit abnormal for fans to drive first to a train station and then hop on a train then drive directly to an arena.
So was this study flawed? Absolutely.
It didn't take into account all of the things that makes UBS Arena one of the most unique and advanced buildings in all of professional sports. Yet, based on the criteria, you can understand how it ended up on the very bottom of the list.
If it makes you feel better, Madison Square Garden was 27th.
Ball Arena, home of the Colorado Avalanche, earned the top spot, followed by Little Ceasars Arena in Detroit and Columbus Blue Jackets Nationwide Arena.