Many longtime Islanders fans upset
For many longtime Islanders fans, Wednesday's announcement that the team was leaving Nassau County for Barclays Center in Brooklyn was a cruel blow.
"I feel like I got poked in the eye," said Ronnie Kind, a season-ticket holder and vice president of the team's official Booster Club, which was organized in 1972. "They might as well move to Quebec," said Kind, who lives in West Islip. "I normally go to 30 games a year; in Brooklyn, I might see three."
Kind, 50, knows about road trips. He also helped organize excursions for members of the club, whose number has dwindled to about 130, to see the team play in arenas in Ottawa, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
"The texts and the phone have been going all day," he said, "and I can tell you, they're going to lose a good portion of the older fan base. It's all about the transportation."
Fans in Suffolk, and to some extent, in Nassau County who work on Long Island, will be averse to taking the Long Island Rail Road, which has a stop at Barclays Center, to weeknight games and back, and arriving home close to midnight. And driving, for Kind, "is out of the question. How long would it take to get there in rush hour?"
Larraine D'Errico of Levittown, who has had season tickets with her husband, John, since 1973, said the train wasn't the answer for them. "We're not going to renew next season," she said in a phone conversation. "I'm very upset. We're older and we're not going to deal with the traffic. We have friends that have gone there [to Barclays] and it took them forever."
D'Errico doesn't blame owner Charles Wang. "I'm furious with Nassau County," she said. "I understand Wang's problem and I was all for his plan. He was willing to pay, but there were people who had their own agendas."
She was also upset with younger, homegrown fans losing the team's legacy. "My grandson Michael has been going to games since he was 6, and he's a die-hard," D'Errico said. "Now what?"
Gary Harding, 49, of Huntington, a former president of the Booster Club and a season-ticket holder since 1988, said the distance is a detriment and there are personal ties as well.
"My wife is just as passionate a fan as I am," he said. "We met at a game, and when I texted her this morning, I told her, 'Well, we won't be going there every night.' Maybe we'll look into going on some weekends."
Others were relieved that at least the team didn't leave New York.
"Keeping them in the area is probably the most important thing," Don Becker, 39, of Valley Stream said. "It's the best thing for the team."
"I think it's fantastic," he said. " . . . Now I can take a train to Brooklyn.
"It gives them a little bit of life. It gives them a little bit of a jolt, which they need."
With Carl MacGowan