Friday, September 13, 2013

Barclays Center hockey configuration said to hold 15,813 (though let's see); sight lines highlighted over "weird" configuration; new push for LIRR

The big Barclays Center news yesterday was a media day featuring the New York Islanders, taking the Long Island Rail Road to the arena, posing for photo ops (as in the Daily News), and highlighting the Sept. 21 pre-season game against the New Jersey Devils.

"This was not like anything I’ve ever seen before, getting off the train seeing the huge Barclays signs and walking over to the arena,” the team's Matt Martin told the Times. “There was a definite ‘wow’ factor. We all felt it.”

As Newsday reported, the official seating capacity will be 15,813, well over the 14,500-15,000 figure previously been used, allowing the team to have the second-smallest capacity--rather than the smallest--in the NHL. There could be 75-100 additional premium seats.

I'd take that with a grain of salt. Note that the capacity of the arena for basketball has been a little wobbly in the past year--initially 18,,000, then 17,732. With an average of 17,200 Nets tickets sold and 10% no-shows in the first season, average attendance for those games was 15,480 people.

"Great sight lines"

As noted in the video below, arena developer Bruce Ratner touted "great sight lines" and "intimacy," while arena CEO Brett Yormark promoted "one of the largest scoreboards in the country."

Video via Islanders Point Blank, by Christian Arnold

An unusual configuration

The Times quoted team owner Charles Wang's excitement. (He still maintains the team won't move before 2015, but we'll see.) While the Times cited Ratner's enthusiasm for the proximity, it acknowledged:
The rink does not fit in the center of the arena, so the overhead video scoreboard is not centered on the ice, though from certain angles that is less noticeable. Another oddity caused by off-center ice is that there are no standard seats behind one of the goals on the lowest level, typically a premium seating area. Instead, a high-end hospitality area is planned for behind and to the sides of the goal.
New York magazine more pointedly noted the asymmetry and said "things get kind of weird" at the west end. And Yormark made a slight admission:
When asked if Barclays Center had anticipated a permanent hockey tenant when the arena was designed, Yormark admitted the arena was primarily built for basketball and concerts. "But obviously, we always wanted to consider every possible option, and we think that this building is multipurpose. It can accomodate all different types of sporting events, including hockey. So we're very happy about what it looks like today."
To save money, arena, once designed by Frank Gehry as a convertible basketball/hockey arena, was shrunken to focus on basketball.

Taking the train

From Lighthouse Hockey:
When you hear [GM Garth] Snow, and Charles Wang, and individual players, say in separate interviews variations of "it's just a short train ride away," that is no accident. This is good PR, on-message behavior aimed at the skeptical diehard fan from further east on Long Island. Say it enough, and some of the holdouts who resist the idea of this move two years down the line will reconsider.  
Eyes on Isles noted:
For all evening games, LIRR train service from Atlantic Terminal to Jamaica Terminal will be extended past midnight.

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