NHL hockey has officially returned to the Nassau Coliseum.
On Saturday, Jan. 19, more than 16,000 people arrived at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale to watch the Islanders kick off the 2013 season against the New Jersey Devils. The Islanders lost the game, 2-1, but the team’s presence alone represented a “win” for hockey fans, who endured a four month-long lockout that kept them from watching Nassau County’s lone professional sports team.
But the greatest victor of the belated hockey season could be the local economy. With thousands of people flooding the area on game nights, nearby businesses should see a boost in customers. To survey the impact the NHL lockout had on the economy, the Herald reached out to East Meadow business owners, asking how they fared over the past few months.
Richard Bivone, an East Meadow resident who is the Nassau Chairman of the Long Island Business Council, emphasized that it is the obligation of the business owner to adapt in the face of adversity. “That’s what small businesses do best,” he said. “There’s always other options out to them to be able to survive in the worst of times, and in the best of times.”
Bivone added that he frequented local stores and restaurants during the lockout, and concluded that the Islanders’ absence did not have a major impact on the local economy. “We’re glad that the hockey season is starting up again. But I did not see anything that was dramatic in the negative.”
Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant, on Hempstead Turnpike, is less than one mile east of the Coliseum. The eatery has been a pre-game staple of Islanders fans for more than 40 years. Owner Frank Borrelli said that to offset the customers he would normally receive on game nights, the restaurant reached out to officials at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale, notifying them of availabilities. As a result, Borrelli’s housed a lot of local sports teams who were in the area for competitions. “Business in general has been pretty good without the Islanders,” he said.