The great moments in New York Islanders franchise history all took place at Nassau Coliseum in
Uniondale... four straight Stanley Cups in the 80s. The great moments. The powerhouse teams. But as
new NHL venues appeared on the landscape, Nassau fell farther and farther behind, to the point that
people made comparisons as an oversized minor league rink. Multiple plans were promoted for a
replacement arena and multi use development in the area surrounding Nassau Coliseum, but plans
never got off the ground. The team finally pulled stakes and moved here to Brooklyn... to an arena
ideally suited for basketball, but not configured well at hall for hockey.
Getting to the venue
Barclays Center is located amidst the hustle and bustle of a very vibrant and gritty downtown Brooklyn,
situated at the corner of Atlantic Ave and Flatbush Ave. As such, parking is very limited and very much in
demand. Private lots ask $40 to park, and through the arena’s web site, fans can make “reservations”
for a parking space at one of a number of lots within a 5 minute walking distance, with the cost
running about $36. Street parking is allowed but obviously is very limited, and the adjoin ramp to the
arena is reserved for premium ticket holders.
The best option is pubic transportation. The Atlantic Terminal of the Long Island Rail Rod is directly
across the street and will take you to any points east on Long Island. The Atlantic Ave/Barclays Center
subway station has been newly rebuilt and expanded, and the entrance is directly outside the front
plaza of the arena. Nine different subway lines connect through this station. Eleven local bus lines
traverse the arena for fans in the local Brooklyn area. The team even encourages bike travel, offering a
large phalanx of bicycle racks directly behind the arena, and use is complimentary.
Outside the venue
Every bit of the New York vibe can be felt when looking at any given direction from the front plaza of the
Barclays Center. Being next door to the LIRR terminus, this area serves as a transportation hub. The
Atlantic Yards vision which saw a massive redevelopment of this entire area into a dense mixed use
area sporting tens of thousands of new residential units was abandoned in 2008. Nonetheless, new
construction abounds, with cranes in the air and skyscrapers going up at a rapid clip. At street level, it’s
retail shops, bodegas, chain restaurants, tightly wound residential streets, and the urban bustle that is
so part of the feel of being in New York. The massive public plaza in front of the arena is nicely
landscaped, well lit, a 360 degree tear drop shaped LED board the signature element of the entryway,
and mood lighting emanating from the pavers adding to a nice feel. A nice touch is the placement of
the actual flagpole from Ebbets Field in front of the building, with an adjoining historical marker.
The Barclays Center experience starts to go downhill once you step inside. The main entrance leads
into a pavilion style atrium lobby, and it’s dark. Granted there are futuristic LED ribbon boards but if this
is what one depends on to light the way that’s not a good thing. Straight ahead is a massive cavity
giving one’s first glimpse to the seating bowl.
Then there are the concourses themselves – all done in Brooklyn Nets colors black and gray, and it
makes the corridors look dreary and depressing. The place needs splashes of color desperately. One
almost eels inclined to bring in buckets of bold pastel colored paints and just throw them at the walls to
create instant art. The upper levels, equally as dreary, are best with narrowing choke points along both
sidelines, which makes a trip to concessions stands or the washrooms a cumbersome chore. Not
The major problem with the seating bowl is a huge one, and in the long term spells doom for this
franchise here unless massive reconstruction changes are made. The building is configured for
basketball, and that means when you put the larger ice sheet in, the result is thousands of obstructed
view seats and many more with awful seating angles. The scoreboard hangs over the blue line. It is all
an awful set up. Add to the fact that the building is nicknamed the "Darklays Center" because the
seating areas are poorly lit, especially in the upper deck, and it's one hot mess. With oceans of empty
seats night after night, fans are staying away in droves. Their traditional fan base, located 30 miles to
the east, have opted to stay away and not support the team.
If there’s one thing the Barclays Center has plenty of, it’s premium clubs. There’s a restaurant called
the 40/40 Club on the suite level, with buffet offerings. A courtside club is situated right next to the
locker room entrance, where fans can watch the players go buy. Then there are additional premium
lounges on the club level at each side of the arena. Party suites and other suites of varying
configurations are available on the suite level, but the most exclusive part of the building is titled “The
Vault”, 11 suites tucked away on the event level, with a private champagne bar among its elite
amenities. Presumably these areas of the building come with adequate lighting.
This is the arena’s strongest asset – the vast array and selection of terrific food and drink items, which
all come with a strong hometown Brooklyn theme. There are over 30 local vendors who bring their
specialty items, under the concession themed stands such as “Bed Stuy Grill”, “Paisano’s Meat
Market”, “Avenue K Deli”, “Junior’s, Blue Marble and More”, “Fatty Cue Barbecue”. All these and more
offer many of the local delights, from steakhouse burgers to world famous cheesecake to ice cream
floats to kosher baked goods to pasta to pickles and much, much more There is an actual candy and
confections store with colorfully displayed candy down on the 100 level.. One would need about six
visits to sample all the delights offered here. Pick up a guide at any guest relations stand and choose
carefully and wisely.
The team store at street level is absolutely massive, and these are about half a dozen companion
retail outlets all facing Flatbush Avenue.
Retired numbers and banners
The banner presentation for the New York Islanders is exceptional, with all of the pageantry and history
brought over here from the Island. In addition to their imposing four Stanley Cup championship
banners, the names Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Mike Bossy, Billy Smith, Bryan Trottier and Bob
Nystrom are enshrined in the rafters.
Hat tricks, assists, penalties...
Penalty (and game misconduct)... to the awful seating configuration and all the obstructed view seats,
easily the worst in the NHL.
Assist.. to our friend and fellow road tripper (and 122 Club ehshrinee) Sean MacDonald, who joined us
on our official visit to this arena.
Hat trick.. to the Atlantic Yards neighborhood, which is getting more and more developed even since
our last visit here to see the Brooklyn Nets. Brooklyn is a cool and exciting place to be with great urban
Assist... Cell phone charging station in the lower concourse.
This arena is almost a cast study in multiple personalities .. there's the glitzy and opulent exterior and
architecture, the New York urban feel of the neighborhood. Contrast that with the arena that is
shrouded by darkness in most of the interior and the terrible seating configuration, and you have a
mish mosh of every thing cutting edge and yet everything that is so very wrong.. The good news? All
this is correctible. Start with a massive interior light project in the seating bowl, along with a
reconfiguration of seats, and go from there. Our guess is that this franchise will be sited elsewhere
once their lease is up.
Fan Support 3
Concourses/fan comfort 1
Bonus: Ebbets Field flagpole 1; 360 LED board in plaza 1