As Islanders fans, we know what it feels like to have our home ripped away. Nassau Coliseum, the birthplace of this franchise and a hockey holyland, was abandoned by the Islanders in favor of Barclays Center in 2015. Although they eventually returned to Nassau, those three seasons in Brooklyn were a dark time for a majority of the Long Island faithful.
The unfamiliarity and bizarreness of Barclays Center resulted in the fanbase seeming dead throughout that timespan. This past season was a renaissance of sorts, in which the team had a winning record in a building that they could truly call home. However, this reality won’t remain for much longer.
Construction of the Belmont Park arena will begin within the coming months, effectively ending the team’s long term future at the Old Barn in the near future. With this information, the question has to be asked: will the atmosphere and passion of Nassau Coliseum translate to Belmont Park?
As Barclays Center has taught all of us, it isn’t home if it isn’t Nassau. When one compares the amount of fan activity in Nassau to Brooklyn, there’s no competition at all. Although Belmont is located on the border of Queens, it’s still in Nassau County.
A main reason for the low attendance in Brooklyn is because of how far away from the fanbase it is. It’s a nightmare to navigate by car or train. Belmont Park, however, is only about 15 minutes away from the Coliseum. While the extra distance may be an inconvenience for fans in Suffolk and eastern Nassau, it’s nowhere near as bad as the long trek to Brooklyn. The fans will still attend games even if the Islanders are slightly further away.
Although attendance will likely not be a problem, the atmosphere is a huge issue. Nassau Coliseum is an environment that doesn’t exist anywhere else. The passion in that building is unmatched by any stadium or arena on this planet. Thus, Belmont Park has been given the task of recreating a truly unique experience that has yet to be replicated elsewhere.
The height from ice to ceiling, acoustics and multiple other factors all have to be mastered in order to replicate that true Islanders fan experience. Although an unconfirmed report from a few months ago stated that Belmont Park will be roughly 25 feet taller than the Coliseum, the ceiling is still low enough to somewhat emulate 1255 Hempstead Turnpike. If this report is true, then the new arena should be able to keep Islander traditionalists satisfied.
Speaking of tradition, all customs should remain the same. This includes traditions such as the Kahlenberg T-3A horn, “YES!” chant, Paul Cartier’s organ and many more. Should all of these remain, the transition from Uniondale to Elmont will be much easier for the fans to deal with.
With construction of a brand new arena set to begin this summer, the Islanders must take into account the Long Island culture that goes into housing the pride of this county.