(Long Island, N.Y.) If you used your imagination to the best of your ability Wednesday night at James Shuart Stadium at Hofstra University, one could almost get a true hometown feeling for the New York Jets. Not the type that comes approximately every other weekend for four or five months a year subsequent to a three hour journey south west, but on a daily basis.
Over 10,000 loud folks made themselves heard during the team’s annual trek back to their roots and true fan base on Long Island when the Jets held an open workout on the grounds of their former ‘home.’ For 40 years, they held training camp and practice at Hofstra until moving to the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, New Jersey in 2009.
“There’s a lot of Jets fans right in that area,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We want to be true to that. I know the Jets were there for years and years, back when my dad (Buddy) was coaching.
“I thought it was a great opportunity for us – even though it’s one day – to keep our fan base out there and let them know that we still think about them,” continued Ryan. “It’s an opportunity for us to do it. It is an inconvenience. You never know how the traffic is going to be there, but it’s the least we could do.”
The last part of that statement is something that the actual New York fans deal with each and every time they make the long trip to a Jet home game since 1984, when the team moved from Flushing’s Shea Stadium to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The brand new stadium did absolutely nothing for the commute, as it was built adjacent to the old one and still off Exit 16W on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Just ask the average fan that made it out to Hofstra that evening and you’ll hear a similar tune. “I used to come out to camp here every summer,” said Mike, 46, from West Islip. “Going to games at Shea was a great experience, but that went away when the team did.” The long-time Jets fan went on to explain that he found himself going to fewer games each year to avoid the traffic and tolls. “I’d rather just take it in from the couch now,” he said with a smile.”
That has been the argument from the contingent – that the real fans are back home east of a stadium filled with corporate suits that couldn’t tell you the difference between a 3-4 defense and a 3-point stance. Especially now with the new building, it’s high ticket and concession prices and Personal Seat Licensing fees, the blue collar, green jersey sporting fans will become scarcer than before.
Just how many of the 10,000 plus who came out to Hofstra also attend Jet home games can only be guessed, but it would be a shock if the number were more than half. But it could be higher if you just close your eyes…