Report: NY Islanders season ticket holders not renewing due to costs, parking issues

New York Islanders First Practice At UBS Arena
New York Islanders First Practice At UBS Arena / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

As the home of the New York Islanders and host of the 2026 All-Star Game, UBS Arena is, in many ways, everything fans dreamed of for nearly three decades during never-ending arena drama.

However, now in its third season, the arena is still evolving and experiencing growing pains, and surrounding factors are keeping some fans from renewing their season ticket packages next season, and it's not all about what's happening on the ice.

In a balanced report from Laura Albanese in Newsday, the team's hometown newspaper writes that parking issues, rising season ticket costs, ongoing construction, and time spent commuting are among the reasons why attendance has dropped nearly 5% since the arena's inaugural season.

Recently, season ticket holders were on the receiving end of a double whammy. Not only were their season ticket prices going up, but certain fans would no longer have access to the Belmont Park Garage, meaning they would now likely need to park in the Emerald Lot, which requires either a lengthy walk to the arena during some tough weather months or a sometimes lengthy wait for a shuttle service before and after games.

“I don’t think the Islanders appreciated how big of a deal it was,” Andrew Ford of Bethpage said in the story. “I told them if I don’t have the option of taking the garage, I’m just going to pick and choose my games because there’s really no benefit to being a season-ticket holder.”

The campus at Belmont Park is going through a makeover and face-lift, with a new Belmont Park Grandstand for the horse track to go along with Belmont Park Village. There's already been the opening of the new LIRR station and The Park at UBS Arena as a pre and post-game destination for fans before and after Islanders home games.

The construction in and around the arena has an impact on parking, and the location of the arena creates cogestion for drivers whether they are attending an Islanders game or not. For those that use it, the LIRR option is lauded as the best, and most efficient. However, fans have been slow to change their habits of driving to the game and taking the train, which is faster and more cost-efficient.

“This has always been a 10-year vision,” Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said. “There will be a lot of bumps in the road as we go through other aspects of the campus. We’re always going to have to be nimble as to how we’re getting people in and out of the campus. But, overall, we’re somewhat subject to the transportation and the infrastructure that’s around us. We can’t reinvent the turnpike.”

These aren't the days of the Nassau Coliseum, where you could buy yourself a $6 ticket a few hours before game time to watch the Islanders take on the Arizona Coyotes on a Tuesday night. Those days are forever over, and even if you get into the arena for a reasonable price, the cost of parking and concessions adds up. "UBS Arena is “a state-of-the art building that Islanders fans have been waiting for forever,” said Port Jefferson's Bill Huber. “But it’s obnoxiously expensive.”

According to the 2021-22 NHL Fan Cost Index cited in the report, the cost of attending an Islanders home game for a family of four is $445.84, which was ranked 16th in the NHL. Given this is New York City and Long Island, being league-average is more than reasonable, even if it is a significant increase from the days in Uniondale, which was always the exception.

The Islanders will always have their core group of season ticket holders that will renew regardless of whether the team is good or bad and no matter how high the price of a beer and a burger becomes. These are the die-hards of the die-hards.

Yet, for those that became STHs when the new arena opened, they're weighing the cost with the hassle, and whether it's worth it, given the product on the ice. If the team is viewed as a Stanley Cup contender, the organization will likely maintain attendance numbers regardless, but when the team slips into mediocrity, fans start questioning how they are spending their disposable income and if the experience isn't always a pleasant one, may choose to stay home instead.