The Islanders and Rangers are less than two months away from facing off at MetLife Stadium in front of what’s predicted to be a record crowd for a sporting event in East Rutherford, N.J.
The puck drops at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, as part of the NHL’s first-ever two-day, two-game midwinter Stadium Series.
Perhaps it was the Stadium Series that got one TikTokker’s wheels turning.
AI has the Islanders playing in the shadow of the Montauk Lighthouse, the island’s most recognizable landmark. And that got our wheels turning: Could it work?
Absolutely. And here’s why:
• The traffic would be no big deal, ya’ wussies. Whether it’s to and from work, the bagel store, upstate or the Hamptons in summer, we’re always sitting in traffic. We’re good at this. Drawing 15,000 extra people to Montauk in the winter would be no bother. The population swell on a Thursday in July is worse.
• People say Montauk is far, but most of us have been to Montauk like five or 10 times. So it’s not that far. Plus, Suffolk County residents, including many East Enders, schlep to the border of Queens to watch the Islanders 41 home games out of the season. Give these people a break and bring the hockey to them!
• We think the state would be all about an outdoor stadium in Montauk Point State Park, which is what’s depicted in the AI rendering. The Islanders already play in Belmont Park, also state-owned, and the Mets play in the state’s Flushing Meadows–Corona Park. Robert Moses would have wanted this. We all know it.
• Let’s say the state rejected a permanent structure on parkland, just go modular.
• If the NHL and New York Islanders were to choose anywhere on the East End to do this, Montauk would be the spot, as Montauk residents are the only ones left open to new and cool ideas. Such an outdoor arena proposal elsewhere on the East End would be answered with a big, fat “no” in the form of civic unrest. Remember, this is a part of the island where locals routinely protest 7-Eleven proposals. And where the Town of Riverhead famously pulled the plug on the Woodstock-like Field Day music festival in the eleventh hour. Montauk is the only possible spot.
• The finances would work. We could easily picture a group of investors bankrolling this thing, even if they only landed the Islanders for two outdoor games a season. Just book a few concerts or even a spring music festival — before the peak season — and the investors are in the black. Billy Joel would definitely do it; the guy loves Montauk. Heck, Taylor Swift is just a short helicopter ride away from her homes in Tribeca and Rhode Island. (Then those investors would really be in the black!)
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Photo: TikTok screen shot.