The Barclays reality; an evolution of a fan base
I was trying to stay away from this topic but I knew it would come up and bite me at some point. My intent on hockey buzz is to try and cover the team, report news and provide talking points for discussion. I don’t want to get into the politics of Long Island because frankly I don’t care. I want to talk about the sport and the team that we all love. However on Saturday night I reached a tipping point and I feel that the move to Brooklyn needed to be addressed. I felt like I could offer insight being that I have been through a similar situation and I can bring a different perspective to the discussion.
After the Islanders fell at the hands of the Devils 3-0 Saturday the onslaught on social media began. I didn’t hear the goal horn in Brooklyn but I certainly heard the WAHHHHHHHHHHMbulence. To be blunt it is time for Islander fans in Nassau and Suffolk County to evolve as a fan base.
Here are some of the trending topics of my twitter time line on Saturday; the Barclays Center is a joke, the train ride was awful, I’m never setting foot in that building again, I don’t want to like this team anymore and my personal favorite and I quote “I wish they had just moved to Seattle because this is too hard.” Let’s address that last comment first and in order to do so we need to jump into a time machine.
The year was 1997 and yours truly was a young impressionable freshman at then Quinnipiac College. I was stuck in a Liam Gallagher phase of fashion and I thought that bucket hats and yellow sunglasses were a good look. But the biggest part of my life; was my Hartford Whalers. I ate drank and slept Whalers hockey and much like the rowdy section 329 of NVMC we would get five dollar seats, sit against the wall and have the time of our lives. I truly treasure those times even if it was in support of a horrific franchise.
Early that spring all the rumors and whispering finally came true. My team didn’t move to a hockey challenged arena 20 miles away in New Haven; no they moved to NORTH CAROLINA! So for those who say it would have been easier if the Islanders moved to Seattle I am here to tell you that is one thousand percent false. It was a horrible feeling losing my team and it hurt my interest in the game for a few years. It wasn’t until the Sound Tigers moved into my backyard did I truly start to love the game again.
I know the Barclays center is not perfect however many forget that it is not a finished product. It will be two years until the first regular season game is played there so can we reserve judgment until that time. If they can put a man on the moon, I’m quite certain they can improve the Barclays Center for hockey. Nobody is going to care about the sight lines or obstructed view seats if John Tavares is hoisting the cup on that ice.
I understand that the commute is a big change for Islander fans in Long Island. However I can tell you as a fan of the team coming from Connecticut, you can do it. Once again Islander fans you need to evolve. You might not be able to get to 40 games a year. You might only be able to get to 10 or 15. My advice to you is, make them special. Get on the train with your friends and you have an instant mobile tailgate.
I guess what I want my friends in Long Island to take from this is what our other choices were. If it wasn’t for Brooklyn the other choices would have been Seattle, Kansas City or Quebec City. If you want to be mad at anyone; yell at your crooked politicians who are directly responsible for the situation you are in.
The Islanders are going to Brooklyn. It might not be the experience it was in Nassau but it doesn’t have to be bad. This team will now have more cooperate support, more revenue and a city that is going to embrace them. People from Brooklyn love what is theirs. From the pizza joints to the dry cleaners to their sports teams, that city will embrace the Islanders as their own.
I know change is hard but I am here to tell you that it will be ok. I’m sure the first people who saw a car said that there is no way they are ever riding anything other than a horse. I just want you all to take a minute and think of the alternative. I have seen the it and I have lived it. If you told me in 1997 that my team could move twenty miles away but I might have a seat with an obstructed view I would sign up for it seven days a week and twice on Sunday.