hey stand. They cheer. They chant. But where will they stand and cheer and chant next year? Section 329 has grown larger and louder this season, gaining new unofficial “members” and notoriety with every Islanders home game during the final season at Nassau Coliseum including a feature story by Allan Kreda in the New York Times.
Apparently Barclays Center has noticed as well, rolling out the blue and orange carpet for the Blue & Orange Army. IslesBlog has learned that ticket representatives at the Islanders new arena have been actively working with Section 329 to ensure they are a big part of the move to Brooklyn, offering affordable discounted single game and season ticket packages in the partially obstructed Section 229 where all four face off circles and the nets are visible.
Facing added train costs and travel time, the group made up of predominantly all native Long Islanders will need to secure a minimum of 20 commitments to lock down the offer in Section 229 for next season. Early indications are they will have no issues meeting the minimum requirement, but it is unknown how large the group offer could extend.
The below depicts a view from Section 229 Row 7 as taken from Barclays Center’s Virtual Venuelocated on their website:
Barclays Center and the Nets organization have previous experience working with fan groups. The Brooklyn Brigade, the “Unofficial group of Vocal Brooklyn Nets fans” was spun from a group once known as “Loud and Proud” and has grown through informal gatherings and recognition from the Nets organization. Section 329 has been afforded the opportunity to speak with members of The Brooklyn Brigade to hear about their experiences and potential opportunities for the group. You can read more about the Brooklyn Brigade HERE
Calls to Barclays Center’s ticket office for comment were not immediately returned.
Earlier this week, I spoke with Tom Ballantyne, part of the Section 329 crowd since the 2006-7 season about the challenges a move to Brooklyn may pose, who the Blue & Orange Army represent, how the section re-emerged from its original version in the 90s and the “YES” chant’s explosion in popularity.
What has Barclays Center done to ensure you have a new home in Brooklyn in 2015-16?
It’s crazy, but they’ve done a lot in securing us as part of the move to Barclays Center. A special offer for seasons and single game tickets in what will be our new home, section 229. But, it’s not like we’re going to make 229 the new 329, because to us, it’s always 329, it’s home and it’s what we do in the section that makes it what it is, not just the number. Anyway, they’ve gone to great lengths working with us on what we want to be able to do in Brooklyn that we either already do at the Coli, or aren’t allowed to do, but want to do. It just shows the kind of impact we’ve made since our humble beginnings and it’s something we never honestly expected.
What challenges will the move to Brooklyn pose for the Blue & Orange Army?
The challenges, for most of us, will be the cost of the train ticket for each game. We all usually get to the Coliseum early enough to avoid paying for parking, but obviously it’ll be tough to avoid paying for the train ticket. Plus since most of us live on the Island, it’ll be harder to make that trip gameday as opposed to just hopping into our cars and driving to and from the game at whatever time we want, instead of being worried about getting to the train on time.
Is the Blue & Orange Army Section 329 or is it much larger than that?
Section 329 is the headquarters of the Blue and Orange Army, but whether fans like us or not, they should realize that at the end of the day, all of us, including the boys who represent the blue and orange on the ice, we’re all members of the Blue and Orange Army. Everyone who wears the blue and orange and never says die when it comes to this team, it’s what the Blue and Orange Army is all about. When we began, we wanted to let the players know that there are people at the game cheering them on, people who care, who want to show support. We don’t care if the rest of the Coli is quiet, we’ll still be making noise and showing support. We’ve always believed that a crowd can impact the result of a game. Most people think we’re idiots for feeling our chants and songs can impact the game, but if you look back at games this season, the proof is there. When a team is down late, if they hear their fans get loud and rally behind them, they feed off of that energy and emotion and that can change a game. So, like us or not, you’re technically part of us. We’re all members of the Blue and Orange Army, because we’re all Islanders, and that’s what matters most.
Section 329 was very prominent in the 90s as well, how did this new group of Islanders Fans come together and find a home in the section?
Well, that started around 2008. One of the leaders today, “Westfall” (Bill McCue), as we all call him, had season tickets up there and was loud and having fun, so “Pinhead” (Tom LoFaso) and myself joined him up there and he told us how his father used to have season tickets in the prominent 329 in the 90s. At first, we were just a group of four up there and now we’ve grown to something special.
How does it feel having the “YES” chant be embraced by fans and now players?
We always believed the YES! chant would catch on with fans because it’s something simple and easy for everyone to do, and sums up how we all feel after a goal. When the players started acknowledging it, and doing it, we realized that what we’ve done is create something big, something special, a movement from the bottom, the fans, to the top, the team themselves, and it’s really cool, much like how Daniel Bryan, the originator of the YES! chant, and where we got the idea from, managed to gain his popularity.
Sometimes, you just have to give the people what they want, and the Isles have bought in to the YES! chant, so it’s an awesome feeling.
If a fan wants to become an unofficial member, what should he/she do?
It’s actually a simple process. Just come hang out with us. The more often we see you, the more we’ll probably consider you an unofficial member. We’re not exclusive.
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