Bridgeport Sound Tigers forward Nino Niederreiter and goaltender Anders Nilsson had a chance to take in a Brooklyn Nets game at Barclays Center on Nov. 26. Both players left with the same impression of the new, state-of-the-art facility where the Islanders have entered into a 25-year agreement to play home games beginning in 2015.
Anders Nilsson: My girlfriend and I drove the car to Barclays Center on Monday for my first NBA experience, a game between the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks. With it being a rivalry game and a sellout crowd, we knew it would be a great time. It was really easy getting there. We got off the highway and we were able to park without a problem. There were a lot of parking lots just around the corner from the building, so we parked the car nearby, and had a short walk to the arena.
Nino Niederreiter: Getting to the building, I took the subway from Penn Station to Atlantic Terminal. It was so easy to get there that way. And the people are friendly too. I wasn’t quite sure at the beginning where to go, but we asked and the people were super-friendly. Everyone said, ‘You’re going to like the place. It’s very nice.’
Nilsson: When you approach the arena, the front of the building is really cool with the signage and the grass hill that comes up in the plaza. It has to be one of the greatest stadiums in the world. Once you enter, it’s unbelievable. Everything is brand new and fresh.
Niederreiter: It was dark out so you could see all those big screens outside, and you could see the shape of the arena. It looked fascinating because it’s so new, and something I haven’t seen. As you walk into the main entrance, it’s just a huge hall. That area makes the building so much cooler. The colors are mostly black and white, and it looks really great.
Nilsson: It had a good layout. We walked around a little bit and went to the gift shop. I bought a black Brooklyn Nets hat and a Brooklyn Nets jersey. I had to get the Gerald Wallace jersey because he wears number 45, the same number as me, so I thought it was a cool thing to have. We walked around and saw a lot of food stands with different options. I have a gluten allergy, so I thought it was great that we actually found a place where we could buy all gluten-free food. I was really impressed with that. I’d never seen that anywhere else before.
Niederreiter: I had to take a lap around the concourse too. The inside of the building looks phenomenal. All the food stands look very nice. The bathrooms are so much bigger than the coliseum. It’s just a great spot to be and watch the game. The seats we had were great, in Section 118. I feel like there’s probably not a bad seat in the whole arena.
Nilsson: We sat in Section 104, in the corner. It wasn’t center-court, but that didn’t matter. We had a great view of the court. It doesn’t really matter where you’re sitting in the arena, whether you’re high or low, you’re going to have a great view of the action. It’s a great set-up with great sight lines.
Niederreiter: All the big screens in the building look great. During the game, I kept thinking about how it might look even better if there was a nice ice rink with an Islanders logo right in the middle. It might almost look better than the NBA court. It was a great game, very close, and it even went to overtime. Obviously, basketball and hockey are two totally different sports and they’re tough to compare. But I think when we play hockey in there, especially an Islanders-Rangers game, the whole building is going to be so energetic. It’s definitely going to be a great atmosphere. I just kept imagining what it would be like with our team in there, and it’s very exciting to think about the future there.
Nilsson: It was a tight game, and the atmosphere and the crowd were unbelievable. The fans were really going for it. I decided I’m definitely going to go a couple more times this year. There were a lot of Knicks fans there, which I thought added to the experience. When you have fans from both teams at a game, everyone gets really into it. When the Islanders move in there, you know it’s going to be the same way with Rangers fans. If the Rangers fans start up in a cheer, it’ll get the Islanders fans going even more. So I think it’s good, to not only have the rivalry on the court or the ice, but to have it in the stands as well. That only amps up the rivalry. As a player, you like to play when it’s loud and you feel like you have the support of your fans. Playing in front of a loud building is the most fun you can have.
Niederreiter: Taking the subway, obviously I didn’t have to battle traffic going home, but it helped that everything with the train connections was so easy because it was late at night. The building is in a great spot. There were cabs everywhere too, so that makes it easy for everybody to get home.
Nilsson: While I haven’t seen all the buildings in the NHL yet, this will definitely be one of the nicest ones, if not the nicest, in the NHL. I haven’t explored Brooklyn that much, but it seems beautiful and it’s close to Manhattan. I think it’s a great spot for us.
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