The Islanders need a new arena. There is one thing that is right about the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which is that this team won four Stanley Cup championships in a row here (and they appeared in five in a row). All other aspects of the Islanders’ home arena are a major problem.
The Coliseum is not easy to get to even if it were a good place to watch a hockey game. It is a dull-looking beige dome that was built during the days of cookie-cutter style sports stadiums (see Veterans
Stadium in Philadelphia, Shea Stadium, Riverfront Stadium, and Three Rivers Stadium). The arena is named for our veterans, although veterans still pay full price at events. If they are going to use the word “veterans,” they should give something back to veterans.
Ticket prices go up as the team loses, and the Coliseum offers people “obstructed view” seats. These are all known problems. Someone could remind Charles Wang, however, that Queens is really part of Long Island. Perhaps the Islanders could find a home in Queens if the city wanted to explore options in Flushing.
Nassau County and the rest of the country are not in strong enough economic shape to loan the Islanders the money to build a stadium, but perhaps they can find a way to self finance most of it. The Islanders draw only an average of 11,000 fans per game, but they do rake in millions of dollars through cable television revenue. Maybe the Islanders can build near the World Ice Arena in Queens. This would make the area a total sports complex, with tennis, baseball, and hockey.
The reason why Flushing is so perfect for a sports arena is because there are multiple modes of transportation in and out of the area. Unlike the Coliseum in Nassau, where you either drive or you are out of luck, Flushing offers people the Grand Central Parkway, as well as the number 7 train for people coming from other parts of Queens. This alone would boost attendance.
Is there enough room for another arena in this part of Queens? The Islanders would be wise to build a smaller arena (they already have the second smallest arena in the National Hockey League). When
baseball stadiums were being rebuilt in a more practical manner (see Camden Yards and PNC Park), they were designed with smaller capacities. Why would a team want the ugliness of a camera panning into an empty-looking arena?
Queens can also use the construction jobs. Building in a time of a recession is important economic policy. Cement, labor, and electrician locals benefit from this, which could be a big boost for Queens.
As a life-long fan of the Islanders, I share the anguish with many of the other writers and bloggers who care about this team. This team’s history is too storied to be in such a weak position for so many
years. Queens is a perfect fit for this team, and now that Nassau County has voted “no” on funding a new project, nobody can say that Queens stole the team.
Islanders’ general manager Garth Snow feels that the Nassau Coliseum hinders the team’s ability to attract talented players. That might be true. Players might not want to live on Long Island, or they just may
not want to appear at this arena for 40 games each season. If the team played in Flushing, however, players could live in Manhattan or Long Island City, like many of the Mets do, which could add a certain
cache to the club.
Queens politicians, now is your chance. Go get our team.