Nassau Coliseum. The Coliseum. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, or as it is now called, NYCB Live. After losing to the Washington Capitals in 2015, the New York Islanders and their fans were moving to Brooklyn with no plans to return to the historic building.
Fast forward to 2019 and the Coli is in joint custody of their beloved Islanders in a bizarre season split which sees the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau and any future rounds in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. Starting Wednesday night versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders and their fans will be looking to use the storied venue as a catalyst to win game one.
Coliseum faithful are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and not afraid to target chants at specific players, goalies and even officials. The trademark “Let’s GO- I – LAN – DURS” can be heard in regular season and playoff games alike, from warm-ups into the post-game parking lot.
It’s been said the venue is extra loud and it feels like the fans are right on top of the players. An Islander goal brings a deafening roar that ex-Islanders have said gets so intense you can’t even hear the coaching staff. Historically, the Isles have been able to feed off the Coliseum crowd in key situations and to rally when they are down a goal or break a tie or lift them in OT.
New & Improved Coliseum
Those parting with $250 to soak in the first-round playoff experience in Uniondale will be pleased to find some new amenities at the old barn. Flooring, bathroom amenities, new seating and improve security flow are just a few of the much-needed facelifts.
Related: A Tale of Two Arenas: Islanders Fans Prefer the Coliseum
The old Coliseum smell is gone (hard to describe, kinda like Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney), as is the burnt orange tile around the concourse. But what remains are obscene prices for beers and parking ($17 and $40, respectively).
Fear not, as the pretzel guy is still in the lot post-game to feed your cravings as you sit in traffic on the Meadowbrook Parkway. Fire-hot pretzels the size of your head should only be purchased following an Isles victory.
Is it a myth, or is Nassau Coliseum really a significant advantage as opposed to other home rinks? Unless you’ve played there it’s hard to understand the impact of the arena on both Islander and opposing players.
Fans fueled Steve Webb in the 2002 Playoffs, chanting “STEVE WEBB” after each hit as he terrorized Toronto Maple Leafs stars Darcy Tucker and Shayne Corson. Villain Theo Fleury got treated to chants of “Crackhead Theo” and was fined as he reacted to the crowd as they clearly had gone to far.
Tavares Nightmare Return to Nassau
Most recently the Islanders dispatched Toronto 6-1 in John Tavares’ return to Nassau in what some were calling the harshest environment for a returning player ever in any sport!
While some fans at other arenas stick to boos and the occasional taunt, fans at Nassau get personal. Tavares was subject to an entire arena serenading him with “We don’t need you” or “You’re a liar.” The Islanders’ tribute video to their former captain could barely be heard as fans booed loudly from start to finish.
To me, there’s much more atmosphere there than the Barclays Center.
Uniondale or Brooklyn?
Barclays or Nassau? Islanders ownership has decided to play round one of the playoffs at Nassau Coliseum and then move rounds two and beyond to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. So essentially the fanbase will be treated to one round of parking lot tailgates, one round of easy commute to games and one round of the real Islanders playoff hockey experience.
The home where the franchise hoisted Stanley Cups in three of their four victories will get round one, and anything past that, it’s off to Brooklyn. Amazing that leadership would try to make winning the Cup even more difficult for the players but the decision is all about the dollars with more seating and skybox space in Brooklyn.
Ultimately this has been a long overdue dream season for Islanders fans and having one round at the coliseum will be a treat. The big question looms, if the Islanders were to reach the Stanley Cup Final, would games be played at Barclays or Nassau? Hopefully that is a problem Islanders fans and ownership will get to experience!