Wednesday, April 27, 2016

As Islanders go to second round of playoffs, neighborhood braces for noise and disruption

So the New York Islanders, by far the better home team at the Barclays Center, have made it to the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs. That means 7 pm home games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday May 3 and Friday May 6, with a possible game on Tuesday May 10 if the series goes six games.
It means likely sellout crowds and an amped fan base. As Newsday's Randi Marshall wrote, "Fans at Sunday’s Game 6 compared the bedlam with some of their best memories at the [Nassau] Coliseum."

The difference is that the Nassau Coliseum was surrounded by parking lots, which meant a tailgating culture and a place to blow off steam without impinging on the neighborhood (though some fraction of fans could get aggressive and nasty toward opposing fans, as noted in this April 2015 account).

That suggests that arena managers, as well as the police and other public agencies, need to do a better job. (And if the latter don't have the resources, the mayor and governor should make sure they do.)

Neighborhood complaints

At last night's 78th Precinct Community Council meeting (which focused on residents' dismay about the NYPD's posture toward and leaks regarding cyclists' deaths, even from a precinct with a good reputation), several residents pointed out how hockey crowds have impacted the neighborhood.

Some reported crowds crossing nearby streets against the light, or vehicles idling on nearby Dean or Bergen streets.

And while residents recognize that there can be an after-game surge, it's been sustained. While ten to 15 minutes might be OK, one said, 90 minutes to two hours of honking and people shouting "let's go Islanders" is not.

Deputy Inspector Frank DiGiacomo nodded to the suggestion of additional foot patrols around Fifth Avenue in the blocks just below the arena. (Surely the police already know that's a hot spot.)

Pacific Street resident Jim Vogel pointed to seeming nightly events with amplification at the Resorts World Casino NYC Plaza (remember, it's a public amenity!), which he said "seems like a blank check" to get ever louder. Sgt. Angelo Pirozzi commented that the NYPD has not approved all the requested sound permits.

Vogel contended that the the decibel levels exceed what should be allowed. (No evidence was proffered.) Arena Community Affairs Manager Terence Kelly told him, "Jim, you have my cell number," and Vogel responded, "But I shouldn't have to" call. The issue was left unresolved.

Fans in the neighborhood

Kelly said close to 7,000 fans were using the Long Island Rail Road, a continued increase. They are using the railroad, but they're also in the neighborhood, which is of course what area merchants and bar owners appreciate. The question is the balance.

As shown in the video below, shot on Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues, some exuberant fans are chanting a ditty, to the "Adams Family" tune, that includes the lyrics, "Your sister is your mother, Your father is your brother, you all fuck each other, the Rangers Family."

The fan passion is admirable, in a way, but it's clear that either they haven't been told--or don't care--that they're in a residential neighborhood.

I asked Kelly last night if the reported “Islanders Code of Conduct” video--which I don't think has been published publicly--addresses out-of-arena behavior; he said he didn't know, which struck me as under-informed.

The Daily News also reported that "audio recordings asking fans to behave plays outside the Barclays Center during boxing and hockey events."

If things don't improve--and I say this mostly but not completely in jest--arena managers may have to adopt a sticker system, as with the announced plan to have construction workers wear stickers to identify themselves and their project to deter neighborhood incursions.

By the way, DiGiacomo last night announced that that sticker plan is in progress. Forest City Ratner's Ashley Cotton has said the developers, Greenland Forest City Partners, aimed to roll it out by the end of the month.

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