The Barclays Center Experience

It was not your typical preseason NHL game between two longtime rivals the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils on a mid September Saturday night. This was a different kind of game and in some ways a regular season feel to it prior to faceoff as this night officially embarked a new era of New York Islanders hockey.

The new era, BROOKLYN! The Islanders took the ice for a preseason contest at Barclays Center against the Devils last night in what can be called a run through of preparation for two years from now when the Islanders call this venue home. An announced crowd of 14,689 was on hand at Barclays Center for the game in a 3-0 win for the Devils. While fans may be disappointed in the Islanders loss it is still the preseason but the talk and buzz around Islanders fans in Brooklyn and on the Long Island Rail Road last night was about the experience of the new home venue and what is to come in the future.

I was in attendance tonight sitting in section 222 and this was my first visit to Barclays Center in the year it has been open. From my feedback overall the arena itself was impressive and lives up to what I have seen on T.V. from watching Nets games in addition to the easy commute via the Long Island Rail Road. On the hockey side of things, there is work that still has to be done before the Islanders move in for good. The arena let fans walk around both level of concourses prior to faceoff and I visited various sections for views to see how it looks from all the angles and the prior reports of obstructive views are noticed right away. I’m no expert in architecture but with a building that is only a year old, configurations can be made in the next two years. The other concern was the scoreboard being off center. When sitting in the seats throughout most of the area it isn’t as bad as it might look in the photos but that is probably another area of improvement that Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark will look to do.

The fan experience was certainly an interesting one. This began way before entering the building as the buzz was awesome on the Long Island Rail Road coming in especially at the transfer from Jamaica Station to Atlantic Terminal. It was great to see Islanders blue and orange all over the stations and the amount of people was more than I expected to see on this commute. It was a rough commute with the amount of people that took the train as it became standing room only but overtime just like other venues in the area, the possibility of special game day services could be added for Barclays Center. Atlantic Terminal was built up very nicely and is a nice destination for a game with spots to eat prior to the game both in and outside the arena. The most challenging part of this night was at the intermission to get food in the upper concourse with long lines and tight space in between. This may be something we won’t have to worry about every game but it was a concern tonight and one the venue might have to look into.

Through my Twitter account I asked you the fans to share your Barclays Center experience with me whether you were at the game or watching it on the live stream on the Islanders website and I thank those of you for contributions. You can see below some posts I received from fellow Islanders fans…

Twitter

Ben Amodeo ‏@IslesFan_Ben: I really liked the arena. My seat was good in section 9. Arena just looks a little awkward. Commute was horrible.

Pat Scudiero @patscuds: It looks like a terrible place for hockey and they have a lot of work to do these next 2 years..terrible sight lines

Brian Murray@moonutties: Trip was packed. Ton of fans. Arena unreal. Bad end zone, unreal for opposite reason. Obstructed views entire end

Peter J. Paguaga (Blogger Pete Paguaga’s father)@pjpbydasea: Bad site lines &7 hrs adventure left on 445 #lirr train & home by 1145 - on the up side pizza was good from l&b

While the results were mixed, it still was only a preseason game and the Islanders still have two more years to go at Nassau Coliseum which includes this season. Now it’s the time for the team at Barclays Center to evaluate after the first hockey game and see what needs to be done. I fully expect another preseason game next season to further test run the place a year prior to the Islanders move and with each year leading into the 2015 move. I expect and believe that the Barclays Center will be more improved by the time the Islanders call it home and the potential for major success.

The future is bright for the New York Islanders and the excitement builds up more as the current home of Nassau Coliseum gets ready to open up the home slate of the Islanders 2013-2014 NHL season on October 5th against the Columbus Blue Jackets. (All photos courtesy of John Santamaria)

-John Santamaria

Follow me @JSantamariaNY and follow us @TCLIsles