The greatest memory of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at the Nassau Coliseum was on May 24, 1980. Back then, Bob Nystrom’s overtime winner against the Flyers marked the beginning of a legendary dynasty as the Islanders won their first of four Stanley Cups in a row.
Bettman, a young attorney at the time, recalled feeling overwhelmed when he watched as then-league president John Ziegler presented the trophy to islanders’ captain Denis Potvin while the rest of the team swarmed around them.
At the time, the NHL was the only sports league that held such a ceremony where the The trophy was presented to the championship team in front of the fans. It was spectacular for Bettman.
When Bettman stood in front of the Islanders’ near-completed new home, the $ 1 billion-plus UBS arena next to Belmont Park Racetrack, on Wednesday, it was hard to imagine it It has been 41 years since that historic moment at the Colosseum for the team he grew up with to advance from « Fort Neverlose ».
There are great memories of the Colosseum, he said, but the date for the 1972 opened The arena has long expired.
The Isles will be on Wednesday night in the Old Barn, a building that has been eroding for years and whose welcome signs read, « DANGER: ASBESTOS – May Cause » the ice for a potential second, series-winning one Game 6 against the Bruins take cancer. «
The days of 1255 Hempstead Turnpike as the Islanders’ home base are numbered as soon as this postseason run ends in a loss – or another cup presentation. D However, those involved in the construction of the UBS Arena made sure to take into account the little details that made the Colosseum the unique building it is.
« The Islanders have always had a huge fan base, not only on Long Island, but also in the metropolitan area, ”Bettman told the Post on Wednesday as he toured the construction site of the new building.
“You have always needed a first-class, state-of-the-art home. And now they will have it. The coincidence of events couldn’t be more fortuitous. ”
In all of the touring NHL arenas he has toured in his 28-year tenure as commissioner, Bettman has found that every project takes the latest first class standard and takes him expanded.
« Everyone seems to be finding a way to take it to the next level, » he said. “Based on the level of investment they have made, they have spared no expense. That’s why you get what you see, which is just amazing. ”
The idea was to transfer the environment and culture of the Colosseum into the new and improved arena. It had to have that intimate feeling that fans have when their cheers reverberate in the halls.
To ensure this, the structure was built so that the distance from the ice to the roof is almost exactly that of the Colosseum, put together with the largest lower bowl in the border triangle. Still, the arena will seat around 17,500 spectators, that’s over 3,500 more than The Barn.
“I walked around for a year when we were designing the building, I walked around Barclays, I walked around the Coliseum “Said Jon Ledecky, co-owner of the Islanders. “I tried to meet 400 to 500 fans every night. I said, « What do you want from a new building, you are the shareholders, what do you want from your building? » And most of all they said the intimacy of the experience. They want to be part of the experience.
« Looking at [Wednesday night], I don’t think there was a higher entry price on ticket websites, and that’s because everyone in New York wants to be part of that experience. »
With the rise of the Islanders as a consistent playoff contender over the past three years under the regime of Lou Lamoriello-Barry Sportwetten, demand has exceeded expectations.
The Islanders are already almost sold out (over 95 percent) of their season tickets for the opening season of the UBS Arena 2021-22. Around 15,000 of the 17,500 seats are expected to be in premium seats, which are just over 80 percent sold out, and season tickets are omitted.
For comparison: When the Islanders were at the Barclays Center from 2015 to last year, there were only 3,500 premium and general season tickets.
Of 56 suites only seven are left. They even had to convert a storage room into two more suites to meet demand. The topicality of the current success of the Islanders and the planned opening of their shiny new arena will have this effect.
But at least until the end of the current playoff run of the Islanders there will be one last hurray in the Colosseum.
» We took the best of the Nassau Coliseum, « said Ledecky, » and we threw it into this wonderful arena. «
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