Thursday, November 5, 2015

Buffalo Sabres 2 at New York Islanders 1 - November 1, 2015

The new home of the New York Islanders, Barclays Center, is the latest entry into Club 122 and as such, I had to make a visit to keep my membership current. I did so last month when the Jets visited on Columbus Day, but I arrived late and did not tour, so I didn't bother with a post then.

Last weekend, the Buffalo Sabres were in town to face the Islanders and with my buddies from the Ultimate Sports Road Trip visiting to check off their Club 122 requirement, I decided to skip Game 5 of the World Series and head to Brooklyn to see rookie sensation Jack Eichel and the rest of the Sabres.

Barclays Center was designed for basketball, so at one end of the ice, fans cannot even see the goal, as you can tell in the photo above. Yet these are selling for $55 for an upcoming game against Boston.

After the game, I went into the 40/40 club and snuck into a suite, where I took the picture above. Yep, even in the suites, the net is hidden. I guess it doesn't matter as much here as people in the suites rarely pay attention to the game anyway.

The Islanders turned over their business operations to Barclays Center management who pay the club a set fee every season and then try to generate as much revenue as possible. So far, it is not working very well, as fans are staying away in droves.

The main problem is that most Islander fans live far away in Nassau and Suffolk counties and don't want to make the trip in, especially on weeknights. Add on the overpriced concessions, poor setup, and less than friendly ushers, and the gameday experience is really not that enjoyable. The venue is too big for the 10,000 or so fans that attend the typical game. If you do go to a game, use the secondary market to get your ticket, you can save a lot of money that way.

The Islanders post an average attendance of just over 12,000, but many of those are season ticket holders who have already given up on their investment. You can count me in that group. I always wanted to buy season tickets and thought this would be a good time as the Islanders are an up-and-coming team, but there is just no demand for the club in Brooklyn. Perhaps local fans will warm to the team, but early on there are no indications of that happening.

This is the view from my seat, which isn't that bad.

The end zone seats are much closer to the ice than those on the side.

In most NHL arenas, fans are allowed to the glass to watch the teams warm up. Not here. Season ticket holders can get a glass pass that allows them into Section 25, but there are only 91 of these and obviously that section gets quite jammed by the time the players emerge.

I do hope that the Islanders can start winning and compete with the Rangers, but I think that will be a challenge and it would not surprise me to see the Barclays Center opt out of the contract at their first opportunity in five years.

The game was terrible, with Buffalo scoring twice in the third period to win 2-1. All three goals were scored in the obstructed view end, so fans there saw nothing. I stayed till the end, getting home in time to see the Mets throw away Game 5 and complete a pretty bad sports weekend in New York. At least the Red Bulls won.


For a complete review of Barclays Center, check out my detailed article on Stadium Journey.



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