With the crucial Nassau County vote coming up Monday for an arena for the New York Islanders to replace the run-down Nassau Coliseum, Patrick and I debate which teams need to get a new barn…
The Islanders, most definitely, need a new building
By Patrick Hoffman
If you’re a New York Islanders fan, then what I am about to say will come as no shock to you – the Islanders need a new arena. They have probably needed a new arena for at least the last five or ten years; on Monday, that fate will be decided.
The team has been in the Nassau (Veterans Memorial) Coliseum since the franchise was incepted in 1972. If you’re counting, that is 39 years in the same building. Since the arena’s opening, there have not been many changes to it. What it does have needs severe upgrading.
For starters, fans enter the bowl seating on just one level. Consider it one large circle that goes round and round and once entered into their section, the fan will either have to walk up or down to get to their respective seats (not separate levels for the upper and lower decks, etc.)
Secondly, not enough fans go. Sure, the Islanders may sell out their home opener or games against the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils; but other than that, their arena (attendance of 16,250) may only be half full on most nights.
The arena also has nothing else to offer. There are no other restaurants, besides the one in the arena itself, on the property if fans wanted to go elsewhere to grab a bite to eat before the game; what is being offered inside the arena is not exactly great either.
The Islanders need this deal to go through. Should it pass, the team will be guaranteed to stay in Long Island through 2045, something that will give the organization and its fans piece for over the next 30 years.
If it does not pass, then the team will more than likely have to either find a new home somewhere else or have owner Charles Wang sell the franchise to someone that will.
It is that simple folks. This organization needs a new home and they need it now.
Rexall has had its memories, but time for new arena is now
By Ryan Porth
Like the Islanders, the Edmonton Oilers’ need for a new building is increasing year after year. Rexall Place – formerly known as Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton Coliseum and Skyreach Centre – is simply outdated.
Here is one view from the Edmonton Journal:
Rexall Place has a degree of economic obsolescence resulting from a lack of club seats, cramped and poorly placed luxury suites, and small concourses that reduce opportunities for revenue generation. These are the very points raised by the Katz Group in their observations that the revenue potential of Rexall Place does not match that which is available to most other NHL franchises.
Rexall has been open since 1974 and, like I mentioned, is outdated. When you look at newer arenas, like Pittsburgh’s and Phoenix’s, there are beautiful luxury suites, open concourses and great sightlines, etc. You won’t find that in Edmonton.
The Katz Group and the city of Edmonton reached an agreement in May for a $450 million arena in the downtown area. Rexall is currently located 5-10 minutes from downtown; not as far away from downtown as some other arenas around the league, but still not ideal.
Earlier this year, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman voiced his opinion on the Oilers’ need for a new arena:
“This team needs a new building and this city needs a new building,” Bettman told Canada's QMI Agency. “I think everyone agrees on that, it’s just a question of getting it right.”
Rexall Place is the third-oldest arena in the league. It has had its fair share of memories over the years, from the Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier days in the 1980’s to the remarkable playoff run in 2006. Some who have visited even say when you walk into the arena, it’s like there are ghosts from the 80’s and you can feel the history with all of the banners in the rafters.
However, the time is now for the Oilers to get a new home. With the youth infusion taking over, hopefully they can get that arena in the near future.
Photo credit: New York Newsday