New York Islanders fans love Nassau Coliseum.
As the true home of the franchise since its inception in 1972, it’s one of those places that many have a deep connection with. To many, the Coliseum is their own unique, quirky, old but now slightly renovated fossil smack dab in the middle of Hempstead Turnpike.
The place has a charm to it, which is also why anytime another fan base or writers like to call out its deficiencies, Isles fans will defend the place till the very end.
The Athletic NHL came out with its arena rankings yesterday, and to no ones surprise, they ranked the Coliseum the second-worst arena in the league. Only Barclays Center — the franchise’s home arena during their recent four-year stint in Brooklyn — and Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Center ranked lower.
Seeing that ranking, even while it’s probably the right spot for how unmodernized the facility is, there are reasons why Isles fans treasure it as one of the last truly great barns the league has to offer.
The first thing pointed out was the location of the building, which got a low score.
For any Islander fan though, the Coliseum’s location is wonderful
Sure it’s 30-40 minutes from LaGuardia or JFK airport, or a 15-minute hike from the Hempstead branch on the LIRR, but the Coliseum is one of those places that is more a community venue than say the one an hour away in Manhattan.
Heck, you literally have Roosevelt Field Mall just down the road and you aren’t far from lively streets in Farmingdale. Food choices? Some of the best spots in the county or on Long Island are a stone’s throw away. Going out before or after the game, the list of places is hard to beat.
The Coliseum is no question in the heart of the Island. The accessibility by car is one of the major things Isles fans won’t ever get tired of. They love tailgating, and driving to the arena allows for a party atmosphere in the parking lots before games.
Low scoring for the quality of the building? Reasonable. We’re all very aware of the bathrooms, limited food options, crammed concourses.
But how about those sightlines? Best in the league if that’s your thing.
Ask any hockey fan who is coming to the building for the first time or the 500th time, every seat is the best one in the house. You’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who complains about their viewing experience at an Islanders game. That’s definitely one thing the Coliseum faithful definitely take pride in.
Only a six for atmosphere? Hogwash.
Most opposing fans and writers haven’t been able to see how much the place vibrates because the Islanders were so bad for so long. But Isles fans will challenge any other teams’ fans when it comes to the loud and rowdy feeling when there’s a big game on tap that day or evening. You’ll find them tailgating from the wee hours of the morning just so they are ready to scream and cheer on the team come game time.
I mean have you seen that place in the postseason? The noise jammed in because of the low ceiling gets the Coliseum jumping so much, that even the players in the locker rooms feel it.
I won’t comment on the Coliseum press box because I never had the chance to be up there, so I’ll leave that to the beat guys. But you are treated to one unique caveat. If you’re on the benches side of the ice, you have a direct view of seeing MSG’s Brendan Burke and Butch Goring calling the game. The same goes for radio play-by-play man Chris King.
The Coliseum’s appeal to Islander fans is endless. Saying goodbye to the place will be hard when the franchise moves down the road to their new digs at Belmont Park in 2021-22.
Still, the place getting negative marks from outsiders adds to why the fanbase carries it in such a special place in their hearts.
It’s their building and there aren’t many like it left.