The New York Dragons are an Arena Football League team. They do not play in New York City, but are based in suburban Uniondale, New York at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, also home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League, having relocated to Long Island for the 2001 season. They had been based in Des Moines, Iowa from 1995 to 2000, as the Iowa Barnstormers. The team had been successful in Iowa, having reached the ArenaBowl in (1996) and (1997), but the need for a more modern venue as well as the league's desire for a larger market led to the move despite two failed past attempts in New York, the New York Knights (1988) and the New York CityHawks (1997-1998), both of which played at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan. The team was purchased by Charles Wang, who is also the Islanders' majority owner.
The Arena Football organization did award an AF2 franchise to Iowa for the 2001 season also called the Barnstormers, but that team folded after that season. The Barnstormers were noted for their unique uniforms, which in keeping with the aviation theme included the depiction of goggles on the helmets, wings on the shoulders of the jerseys, and propellers on the pants legs. The primary figure in the original Iowa organization was Jim Foster, the inventor of Arena Football.
Aside from the league's desire to re-enter the New York market, another major reason cited for the team's relocation was the inadequacy of their Des Moines venue, the Iowa Veterans Memorial Auditorium, also known as "The Barn". All seating in this venue was located directly along the sidelines as is typical of high school sports venues. The Barnstormers organization constantly lobbied for the construction of a better facility during their time in Des Moines, to no avail. Ironicly, in 2005, the Wells Fargo Arena will open in Des Moines, directly across from what the locals call "Vets" as part of the Iowa Events Center.
Nassau Coliseum, where the franchise relocated, is generally regarded as one of the most marginal venues currently used in major American professional sports, and is often proposed for replacement, so the improvement of the situation with regards to a venue has been - for the lack of a better word, marginal - at best to this point. In late September of 2004, Islanders' ownership announced an ambitious project to renovate the Coliseum, surrounding it with housing units and construction of an adjacent tower, resembling a lighthouse, at a total cost of over $200 million (US).
The New York Dragons currently compete in the Eastern Division of the National Conference. They are coached by former Barnstormer defensive back Weylan Harding.
1995-2003 John Gregory, 66-48
2003-2004 Todd Shell, 17-11
2005- Weylan Harding
Notable Former Players:
13 - Kurt Warner
- Official website (http://www.newyorkdragons.com)
- Season Photos (http://www.longislandexchange.com/sports/newyorkdragons.html) Interview with Coach Weylan Harding.