It looks and feels like the late '70s, early '80s glory years of the NHL--especially outside, where you'd expect to see people strutting around in short '80s shorts sporting glam mullets. And when you get inside and see the banners hanging from the rafters bearing the fabled accomplisments of this franchise in the early '80s, any hockey fan will feel a sense of nostalgia. You expect to see Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith, Denis Potvin, and the like to come storming onto the ice. And since the Islanders still have almost identical uniforms to those worn back in the day, it can almost look like it.
The sight lines are good, and even the seats far from the ice feel close. This rink is a little smaller than most and feels quite intimate, which is quite an accomplishment for the "bowl" design that this rink sports. The fans are quite knowledgeable as far as American hockey fans go. It's mostly diehards at these games and it's quite refreshing to a Canadian hockey fan.
If you're cheering for the opposition, you'll get heckled, but there's a mutual respect there, too. You won't be in any danger, and may well get into some good friendly conversation with locals . . . except for Ranger fans, in which case your experience will be quite different.
Concessions are average, meaning good. Ticket prices here are cheap compared to the rest of the league, but strangely not cheaper than Rangers tickets. You'd think that they'd undercut the prices of Madison Square Garden in order to make it more worth the treck out to the Island. This place feels like it's in the middle of nowhere, even though I'm sure the local population base is quite substantial. It can be quite an ordeal to drive out here, especially during peak traffic times. Parking can be congested, but you'll find spaces. You'll have to be patient when leaving--though it's not as bad as places like Ottawa or Montreal.
All in all, it's a better hockey viewing experience than one would expect. No one puts this place on their list of top places to see a game, and I'm not sure if I'm going to. But it was surprisingly good; I'd look forward to going again.
by Tim G
December 30, 2002
From journal Entries from trips to NYC