Although the New York Islanders are on a three-game winning streak and their young roster is starting to gel, rows of empty seats are the unfortunate norm at many of the team’s home games at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.
So much so, in fact, that according to the Biz of Hockey website, game attendance is down 13.3 percentage points from last year, with the 16,000-seat arena only averaging 62 percent capacity — the highest such decline among NHL franchises, it reported.
Christian Arnold, founding editor of the Islanders Hockey Blog, chalked the decline up to the Islanders’ low position in the standings, “dysfunction off the ice,” including coaching changes and revoking media credentials, high ticket prices and mistrust of owner Charles Wang.
But despite the smaller crowds, nearby businesses continue to attract die-hard fans. “Whether they win 10 games a year, or 50 games a year, there are still fanatics for hockey,” said Frank Borrelli, owner of Borrelli’s restaurant in East Meadow, which has an Islanders catering and advertising agreement. A recent game against the Pittsburgh Penguin team drew a “Stanley Cup” sized crowd, he said.
At the Potters Pub, where an Islanders jersey hangs prominently near the entrance, many fans still bring their ticket stubs for free table appetizers.