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Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum

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Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Nassau Coliseum, The Coliseum
Location 1255 Hempstead Turnpike (State Route 24), New York, New York 11553
Opened 1972
Owner Nassau County, New York
Operator SMG Management
Construction cost $31 million United States dollar (USD)
Architect Welton Becket and Associates
Tenants New York Islanders (NHL)
Capacity Ice Hockey: 16,234

View of the Coliseum's seating during a hockey game

The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, commonly known as Nassau Coliseum or simply The Coliseum, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in Uniondale, New York, on Long Island. The Coliseum is 19 miles (30 km) from New York City. It was home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League for more than 40 years until their move to Barclays Center in 2015.


Opened in 1972, the Coliseum occupies 63 acres (255,000 m²) of Mitchel Field, site of a former Army and Air Force base. The facility is located in an unincorporated area of the Town of Hempstead, within the Uniondale 11553 Zip Code.

The New York Raiders, intended by the fledging World Hockey Association to be their flagship franchise, was initially slated to play in the brand-new Nassau Coliseum. However, Nassau County didn't consider the WHA a professional league and wanted nothing to do with the Raiders. Nassau County retained William Shea to get an NHL team to play in the new building. The NHL responded by hastily awarding a franchise to Long Island--the New York Islanders, which forced the Raiders to play in Madison Square Garden, in the shadow of the New York Rangers.

The Coliseum had been home to the New York Nets basketball team of the American Basketball Association and later the National Basketball Association from 1972–1977.

The Nassau Coliseum hosted minor league hockey prior to the awarding of the Islanders franchise, a gimmick brought back in 2005, when the Islanders-affiliated Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) played two "home games" at the Coliseum in the absence of NHL hockey due to the lockout. It originally had a capacity of 12,000 to 15,000 depending on the event, but in the early 1980s the maximum capacity was increased to around 18,000. It currently seats 16,234 for hockey, up to 17,760 for concerts and 17,686 for boxing and wrestling.

On April 17 and April 18, 2009, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the AHL affiliate of the New York Islanders, played two of their home playoff games against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Coliseum due to a scheduling conflict at the Sound Tigers' regular home, the Arena at Harbor Yard.


The Coliseum was the second-oldest arena in active use by a National Hockey League team (after nearby Madison Square Garden), and until the return of the Winnipeg Jets to the league at the 15,004 seat MTS Centre in Winnipeg, was the smallest arena in the NHL by total seating capacity.[1] The arena has been considered obsolete for many years, and various Islanders owners have been trying to replace the arena for over ten years.

The Lighthouse ProjectEdit

Team and county officials announced in 2004 a plan called The Lighthouse Project to renovate the Coliseum. The centerpiece of the project was a 60-story tower designed to look like a lighthouse. Other plans include new housing, athletic facilities, a minor league baseball stadium, restaurants, and a hotel. The project would also add trees, water and other natural elements to the area.[2] On August 14, 2007, Islanders owner Charles Wang and the Lighthouse Development Group partnered with Rexcorp to create a new plan, changing the overall project scale. The 60-story "lighthouse" evolved into two 31-story buildings connected with a footbridge at the top. The project as a whole was transformed from a simple renovation of the Coliseum property into a transformation of surrounding properties. Plans called for more 2,000 residential units (20% affordable housing), a hotel, a convention center, a sports technology center, 500,000 square feet (46,000 m2) of retail space, and a sports complex adjacent to the renovated Coliseum. The overall project was slated to cost roughly $3.75 billion.[3]

Construction was not planned to begin until at least mid-2009. Nassau County approved the entire Lighthouse Project in 2006 on a 16–2 vote, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was completed after a state-mandated environmental review.[3] The Lighthouse Project was then expected to go before the Town of Hempstead for approval on a change in land zoning.[4] However, the approval was never granted. After the October 2009 deadline passed, the Long Island Press reported the cancellation of the Lighthouse Project.[5] Wang has denied the report.[6]

In May 2010, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon had discussions with Wang about constructing a new arena for the Islanders near Citi Field. Wilpon has also discussed the possibility of buying the Islanders.[7] In June 2010, the website FanHouse reported that Jeff and Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets, began working with real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle (who also worked on the most recent renovation of Madison Square Garden) on a feasibility study of a new Islanders arena in Queens.[8] However, a source from Newsday indicated that the FanHouse report was not true.[9] There were also reports that businessman Nelson Peltz wanted to buy the Islanders and move them to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.[10]

2011 proposal to replace arenaEdit

On July 12, 2010, Town Supervisor Kate Murray (R-Hempstead) announced an “alternate zone” created for the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum property, downsizing the original Lighthouse Project to half its proposed size and making the project, according to Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and the developers, "economically unviable for both the developer and owner of the site." From this point, the Lighthouse Project would no longer be pursued by Wang, Mangano and the developers.[11]

On May 11, 2011, the Islanders and Nassau County executives announced that county residents would vote on a referendum for approval of a $400 million public bond issue for a new plan to replace the Coliseum. The plan including the construction of a new $350 million arena as well as a $50 million minor league baseball ballpark nearby, and was presented by Wang as a last-ditch effort to keep the Islanders on Long Island.[12] However, voters in the Nassau County rejected a proposal by a 57% to 43% margin on August 1, 2011.

On October 24, 2012, the Islanders announced the team would move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn following the expiration of their lease after the 2014-2015 season.[13] The Islanders played what would be their final game at the Coliseum on April 25, 2015, beating the Washington Capitals 3-1 in game 6 of the first round of the playoffs against the Washington Capitals forcing a Game 7, held in and won by Washington, ending the Isles' run at the Coliseum; in Game 6 Cal Clutterbuck of the Islanders scored the final NHL goal in the building, an empty netter at 19:07 of the third period.[14]


Not long after the Islanders announced their move to Brooklyn, Forest City Enterprises, the owner of Barclays Center, was chosen to perform a study on development possibilities for the Nassau Coliseum site.[15] A request for proposal was issued as a result of this study to transform the arena into a smaller sized venue and its surrounding parking lot into an entertainment hub with theaters, sports bars, retail, and more. Four competing proposals were submitted in May 2013,[16] and two finalists were selected by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano in July 2013, including one from a group led by Forest City Ratner. Ratner's proposal called for a reduction of the Coliseum’s seating capacity to 13,000 and an aesthetic revamp of the arena’s interior and concrete facade designed by SHoP Architects, the firm which designed the Barclays Center, which would cost the group approximately $89 million. As part of his bid, the Islanders would play 6 games per season in the arena, the Brooklyn Nets would play one exhibition game, and a minor league hockey team would call the arena home.[17][18]

On August 15, 2013, it was announced that Forest City had won the bid for the renovation of the Nassau Coliseum and its surrounding property, pending approval from the Nassau legislature and zoning changes from the Hempstead town government.[19][20] The bid was approved unanimously by the Nassau legislature on September 24, 2013.[21]

  1. "Seating Capacities of the 30 NHL Arenas", May 7, 2007. Retrieved on July 25, 2011. 
  2. Young, Monte R.. "Visions of $200M Renovation", September 28, 2004. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Moore, Elizabeth. "Even Without Stimulus, Nassau Committed to Lighthouse", March 10, 2009. Retrieved on August 26, 2008. 
  4. Rieber, Anthony. "Papers Reveal Isles Will Leave Without Lighthouse OK", March 4, 2009. Retrieved on August 26, 2009. 
  5. Martino, Jr., Michael (2009-10-14). Press Exclusive: Plug Is Pulled On Lighthouse. Long Island Press. Retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  6. Wang: Lighthouse Project still on. Newsday (2009-10-15). Retrieved on 2009-10-15.
  7. Mennella, Dan (2010-05-12). Mets, Isles talk about arena near Citi. Retrieved on 2010-05-12.
  8. Botta, Christoper (2010-06-14). Mets Owners Working With Real Estate Firm on Queens Arena for Islanders. Fanhouse. Retrieved on 2010-06-14.
  9. Report: Source refutes firm's hiring.
  10. Hirshon, Nicholas. "Brooklyn-Queens battle for the Islanders team brewing", 2011-01-07. Retrieved on 2011-08-07. 
  11. "Zoning move cuts Lighthouse in half",, 2010-07-12. Retrieved on 2014-01-01. 
  12. "Last chance for Islanders? Arena plans rest on Aug. 1 vote", Yahoo Sports. 
  13. Gretz, Adam (October 24, 2012). New York Islanders will move to Brooklyn in 2015. CBS Sports. Retrieved on October 24, 2012.
  14. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named nyt-lastgame
  15. Barclays Center Developer To Conduct Study On Nassau Coliseum's Future. Sports Business Daily (November 12, 2012). Retrieved on August 16, 2013.
  16. Four Developers Submit Proposals For Nassau Coliseum; Jay-Z Part Of Ratner's Bid. Sports Business Daily (May 3, 2013). Retrieved on August 16, 2013.
  17. Calder, Rich. "A new dream Coliseum", New York Post, May 3, 2013. Retrieved on August 16, 2013. 
  18. Ratner, MSG picked as Coliseum finalists. The Island Now (July 11, 2013). Retrieved on August 16, 2013.
  19. Forest City's New York unit wins contest to redevelop Nassau Coliseum. Crain's Cleveland (August 15, 2013). Retrieved on August 16, 2013.
  20. Fornabio, Michael. "Despite relocation speculation, Sound Tigers remain committed to Bridgeport", August 15, 2013. Retrieved on September 26, 2013. 
  21. Berger, Joseph (September 24, 2013). Developer Wins Approval to Renovate Nassau Coliseum. The New York Times. Retrieved on September 24, 2013.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
New York Islanders

1972 – 2015
Succeeded by
Barclays Center
Preceded by
Capital Centre
Host of NHL All-Star Game
Succeeded by
Meadowlands Arena
This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License 3.0 (Unported) (CC-BY-SA).

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