By Marshall Cooper and Jhacquelle Swaby
As a teenager, Gwen Benedict remembers purchasing Islanders season tickets at just six dollars a pop. Some time later, for six straight years, the now mother of two took her sons to dive into the sea of blue and orange fans, tailgating outside Long Island’s only major sports arena, the Nassau Coliseum. So when the stadium closed for repairs in 2015 she felt at a loss.
“I was very upset , even distraught to the point where I cried,” Benedict said. “I really grew up going to the coliseum , I even took my two sons to the last playoff game at the coliseum , which was one of the best moments of my life, I will never forget it.”
The stadium has officially opened its doors last Friday. The newly renovated arena features a $165 million renovation with 16,000 new seats , new bathrooms , a modern aluminum exterior , but no major sports team.
The Islanders, a professional hockey team founded in 1972 based in New York City, who moved to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, currently have no plans to move back to the home featured on their logo. Lead developer of the arena, Bruce Ratner, issued a plan for the Islanders to play four regular season and two preseason games at the renovated arena but the proposal has not yet been approved by the National Hockey League.
The Brooklyn Nets development team , the Long Island Nets, will play at the arena as Nassau Coliseum’s only sports team during the 2017-2018 season.
“I absolutely believe the Islanders could come back,” Chris Dana , a long time Islanders fan, said. “The Coliseum would have to add 2,000 more seats to make it happen though,I only have interest in the Coliseum if the New York Islanders come back to play. I don’t think any D-league teams will change anything except for the people who pay attention to it.”
“Barclays is not made for hockey there’s bad views and the seats are so much more expensive,” Jenna Morlock, long time Islanders fan, said. “ I wish now that it’s done (Nassau Coliseum) that Islanders can move back because it’s so much easily accessible and cheaper.”
Only 14 out of 40 arenas that can hold 16,000 people at a Hockey game don’t have a major sports team, Nassau Coliseum is one of them.
“It upsets me that the Islanders banners are off in a corner near the rafters in the Barclays Center , not like they were prominently displayed across the ice at the Coliseum,” Benedict said. “There wasn’t a bad seat when I went to the coliseum and you can’t even tailgate at the Barclays.”