Wednesday, December 02, 2015

With lower attendance than expected, Islanders games have smaller impact, but crowds briefly rowdy and loud

Tonight's New York Islanders home game against the crosstown rival New York Rangers is expected to be an unusual sellout--after a very weak start in the new arena, the Barclays Center--and a rowdier crowd than typical.

That said, the influx of Islander fans, many used to tailgating at the Nassau Coliseum, has made for a louder group on streets near the arena, albeit tempered by the overall low attendance and the fact that a large percentage are using the Long Island Rail Road or the subways.

At the 10/27/15 meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council, a resident of Dean Street said, "We're dealing with rowdy hockey fans, lots of screaming, public urination, lots of garbage on the street." She also mentioned the bus stop being blocked during events.

"I'll send more people around," said Sgt. Angelo Pirozzi, who heads the Barclays team.

"You do see more traffic on Fifth Avenue," he said of hockey crowds. "You do see more pre-gaming. Are they louder? Yes. We are adjusting our manpower."

But he said there was no fighting nor crime. "I have seen an uptick in being loud," he said, citing a regular who bans the drum for ten minutes after games. "If I can talk him out of playing that drum..."

"We're not seeing drunkenness," added Captain Frank DiGiacomo, the commanding officer. "We are seeing rowdiness." He noted that was not unlike other crowds at other hockey games.

Eyewitness report

I stood outside the arena after hockey games a couple of times last month, at the southeast side of Pacific Street and Flatbush Avenue. Most fans exited to the subway or LIRR. Some walked on Pacific to the D/N/R entrance. The loud fans were mainly on the plaza. (That temporary plaza sure is useful.)

Indeed, some of the loudest fans were wearing the red jerseys of the Montreal Canadiens, as a large contingent apparently traveled down from Canada.

In the video below, which I posted after it was sent to me, fans on the plaza after the game were cheering "Let's Go Islanders" and "John Ta-va-res," after the team captain.

Following up

Following up at the 11/24/15 Precinct Council meeting, Pirozzi said the pattern has been consistent: a rambunctious crowd for about ten minutes after games, especially when Islanders win.

He said he's talked with the drummer: "There's no law against banging a drum... we're trying to keep him inside the building."

(Note that, when activists protested the Barclays Center groundbreaking in 2010, one guy was arrested for banging a drum, though I'm sure that wasn't the charge.)

DiGiacomo warned that a full house was expected for the Rangers game. So tonight should be loud. But it might not be Islanders fans.

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