The long queue was formed to enter the UBS Arena through the great great hall, where all Islanders fans waited in the dark Saturday to enter history.
It was shortly before 5pm when they could go inside for the first game at the Islanders’ brand new $ 1.1 billion home, a matchup against the Calgary Flames. At the front of the queue was a 16-year-old boy from Commack, dressed in his blue No. 6 Ryan Pulock jersey. Dominick Glatz had been there since 3:30.
“I’m emotional, I think,” said Glatz, a Commack High junior who was there with his father, Danny, and a couple of his father’s friends. “I’m happy. I’m a big fan, Islander fan … since I was 1.”
“I think it will start a new era,” he added. “It will start new memories with the fans.”
Then the doors opened and the fans, so many in their Islanders jerseys, streamed inside.
What buys $ 1.1 billion? A pretty nice place to take in a game.
“I’m speechless,” said Jerry Vasilatos, a 36-year-old Manhasset account manager who stood in the main hall after securing an autograph from Islanders legend John Tonelli and posing for a picture with him.
“I do not know if I’m in an arena or a hotel or an exclusive Las Vegas venue.”
The longtime Islanders fan who attends with his brother Dennis is a new season card holder.
“First of all, it’s a culmination of a long journey,” Jerry said. “There were times when we even thought we were going to be in Kansas. But not only are we in New York, but this is the leading sports arena, not just hockey.
“And if you’re stepping down, as a New Yorker and just an American, this arena, this project, was built under COVID. What a great way to enter a new era and turn the page as a state as well.”
Alexis Morisi entered the arena and the 28-year-old Pre-K teacher from Massapequa felt a sense of togetherness and community.
“It just makes me feel like we’re really part of the team,” she said. “We are all one family. You can not see anything about racism or anything about gender or age. There is no separation. We are all for a common interest, a common love, and we are all a family.”
She grew up in an islander-loving family and finally became a season ticket holder two years ago. Her impression of the new place? Glowing.
“From what I’ve seen since I walked through the doors, it’s absolutely amazing,” Morisi said. “It’s so enlightened. It’s just beautiful. It feels like home, but it’s still a shock that it’s actually home.”
Matt Carr was in this new home about four hours early with his girlfriend, her parents and a friend. The 23-year-old FedEx driver and season ticket holder from Levittown wanted to “check out the landscape.” He really wanted to see how the atmosphere compared to the Nassau Coliseum.
“It’s exciting,” Carr said. “Nothing is going to beat that Colosseum atmosphere, but hopefully this can beat it. They have the low ceiling, just like the Colosseum. Hopefully it’s Colosseum 2.0.”
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