American Football Database
American Football Database
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Exterior of arena
Location 1255 Hempstead Turnpike
(State Route 24)
Uniondale, New York 11553, U.S.
Coordinates <span class="geo-dms" title="Maps, aerial photos, and other data for Template:Coord/dec2dms/dExpression error: Unexpected >= operator. Template:Coord/dec2dms/dExpression error: Unexpected >= operator.">Template:Coord/dec2dms/dExpression error: Unexpected >= operator. Template:Coord/dec2dms/dExpression error: Unexpected >= operator. / ,
Broke ground January 20, 1969 (1969-01-20)[1]
Opened February 11, 1972 (1972-02-11)[2]
Expanded 1976, 1983
Owner Nassau County
Operator SMG
Surface Multi-surface
Architect Welton Becket and Associates[1]
Structural engineer Severud Associates[3]
General Contractor Irwin Schlef[1]
Tenants New York Islanders (NHL) (1972–2015)
New York Nets (ABA/NBA) (1972–1977)
New York Arrows (MISL) (1978–1984)
New York Express (MISL) (1986–1987)
Long Island Jawz (RHI) (1996)
New York Saints (NLL) (1989–2003)
New York Dragons (AFL) (2001–2008)
New York Titans (NLL) (2007)
Capacity Ice Hockey: 16,170
Basketball: 17,260
Concerts: 18,100
Boxing: 17,686
File:NVMC 5.jpg

View of the Coliseum's seating during an Islanders 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. Currently home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League, the Coliseum is located approximately 19 miles (31 km) east of New York City on Long Island. Opened in 1972, the Coliseum occupies 63 acres (250,000 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 Coliseum is also used for concerts, large exhibitions and shows of various kinds, as well as trade shows — 44,000 square feet (4,100 m2) at the main arena, 60,000 at the Expo Center.

Sports history

The Coliseum originally had a capacity of 13,000 to 15,000 depending on the event, and in the early 1980s the maximum capacity was increased to around 18,000. As of 2012 it seats 16,170 for hockey, up to 18,100 for concerts and 17,686 for boxing.

The Coliseum was home to the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association, and later the National Basketball Association, from 1972–1977. The first event held at the Coliseum was a Nets game against the Pittsburgh Condors on February 11, 1972.[2]

The Nets won two ABA Championships in the Coliseum, with Hall of Famer Julius Erving headlining the team. In 1973-74 the Nets defeated the Utah Stars in 5 games to capture their first title. The Nets then captured the final American Basketball Association Championship in 1976, defeating the Denver Nuggets in 6 games. Following the 1976 season the Nets joined the National Basketball Association as part of the ABA-NBA merger.[4] After their first season in the NBA, the Nets franchise moved to New Jersey. The New Jersey Nets played four seasons at the Rutgers Athletic Center before completion of a new arena at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.[4]

The Coliseum also hosted the New York Arrows and later the New York Express of the original Major Indoor Soccer League.

The Coliseum has also hosted first and second round games of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 1982, 1994 and 2001.[5][6][7]

The New York Sets of the World Team Tennis league played their first game at Nassau Coliseum on May 17, 1974 and won WTTCchampionships in both 1976 and 1977.[8] The team changed its name to the New York Apples in 1976 and began playing some of its games at Madison Square Garden.[9]

The New York Raiders, intended by the fledgling 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 National Hockey League (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. On February 8, 1983, the arena hosted the 35th National Hockey League All-Star Game, during which Wayne Gretzky scored four goals in the third period and was honored as the game's most valuable player.[10]

The Coliseum was home to the New York Saints of the National Lacrosse League from 1989–2003, but the Saints became an inactive team in 2004. In 2007, it was home to four of the New York Titans National Lacrosse League team's eight home games (along with Madison Square Garden).

The Nassau Coliseum hosted minor league hockey prior to the awarding of the Islanders franchise, an event that was brought back in 2005, when the Islanders-affiliated Bridgeport Sound Tigers (AHL) played two "home games" at the Coliseum in the absence of National Hockey League (NHL) hockey due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. On April 17–18, 2009, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the American Hockey League (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.

In 2000 and 2005, the Professional Bull Riders brought their Built Ford Tough Series (originally Bud Light Cup) to the Coliseum.

On February 24–25, 2006, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum hosted the 44th NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships. It's just the third time the annual event has been held on Long Island. Selling 17,755 tickets over three sessions, it broke (and still holds) the NYSPHSAA wrestling tournament attendance record.[11]

Seating Capacity

Portal icon Basketball portal

The seating capacity for hockey has gone as follows:

  • 14,665 (1972–1973)
  • 14,865 (1973–1976)
  • 15,317 (1976–1978)
  • 14,995 (1978–1980)
  • 15,008 (1980–1981)
  • 15,230 (1982–1983)
  • 15,850 (1983–1984)
  • 16,002 (1984–1986)
  • 16,270 (1986–1987)
  • 16,297 (1987–2001)
  • 16,234 (2001–2009)
  • 16,250 (2009–2012)
  • 16,170 (2012–present)[12]

Music and film history

Elvis Presley performed in the Coliseum on June 22nd & 23rd 1973. It was a 3 sell out concerts. His last concert in the Coliseum was July 19th, 1975. Nassau Coliseum holds the distinction of being the next facility Elvis Presley was scheduled to play on August 22, 1977 before his un-timely death a week earlier.

David Bowie performed in the Coliseum during his 1976 Station to Station Tour. The concert was broadcast on radio, it and had been heavily circulated as a bootleg by fans. The full concert saw official release in 2010 as part of the Station To Station Deluxe Box Set.

In February 1977, Queen played at the Coliseum during their headlining US tour, and video footage of the band's performance of "Tie Your Mother Down" at the venue is recorded in the song's promotional film.[13]

The Coliseum was one of only two venues in the United States where Pink Floyd mounted their limited run of shows for The Wall Tour in February 1980. Five concerts were performed from February 24 through 28, one of which was filmed and later traded as a bootleg by fans for years. In August 1988, they recorded and filmed the Delicate Sound of Thunder over four nights at the Coliseum.

Live on Long Island 04-18-80 by The Marshall Tucker Band was the final concert of the original lineup and final recording of bassist and founding member Tommy Caldwell, occurring just ten days before his death in an automobile accident. Tommy Caldwell is pictured on the album cover. The Coliseum album was the first to feature a complete concert recording from the original band. However, the album wasn't released until 26 years later. The band was touring in support of their album Tenth at the time of the recording and features the songs "It Takes Time" and "Cattle Drive" from that release as well as classics such as "Heard It in a Love Song", "Searchin' for a Rainbow" and "Can't You See".

Certain songs from Bruce Springsteen's New Year's Eve concert in 1980 were used on his 1986 live album, Live/1975–85. Both The Grateful Dead and Phish frequently played the Coliseum, concerts yielding live albums in both cases: Go to Nassau by the Dead; and three installments of the Live Phish Series4-2-98, 4-3-98 and 2-28-03.

Genesis' performance at the Coliseum on November 29, 1981 (during the band's Abacab Tour) was recorded and filmed for the band's Three Sides Live album and concert video plus radio broadcast.

Frank Zappa played his last ever U.S. show on March 25, 1988[14] at the Coliseum. He was joined onstage by his son, Dweezil Zappa, for the concert's encores.

On March 1990, the country supergroup The Highwaymen performed at the Coliseum. This performance was recorded and was released on VHS in 1991.

Scenes for the 2007 movie Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore were filmed at the arena. The following year, on February 6 and 7, 2008, The Spice Girls performed two sold-out shows during their Return of the Spice Girls Tour. It was their first performance in the New York area as a five-piece act.

Billy Joel has a "retired number" banner hanging from the rafters, along with those of Islander greats, to commemorate his many sold-out Coliseum shows. His "retired number" is 69. One of Joel's concerts from his 1982 tour at the Coliseum was recorded for a 1983 HBO concert special and VHS release, Billy Joel: Live From Long Island.[15]

The inside sleeve to Morrissey's 1992 album Your Arsenal was shot at a performance at the Coliseum on November 11, 1991.

In 2012, Madonna used the arena to rehearse her MDNA World Tour.


As of 2010, the Coliseum is the second-oldest arena in active use by a National Hockey League (NHL) team (after nearby Madison Square Garden), and was the smallest capacity of all arenas in the NHL until the Atlanta Thrashers became the Winnipeg Jets and began play in the MTS Centre that seats 15,004.[16] The arena has been considered obsolete for many years, and various Islanders owners have been trying to replace the arena for over ten years.[citation needed] 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 (since removed from the plans) designed to look like a lighthouse. Other plans include new housing (including affordable housing units), 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.[17] 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 has transformed from a simple renovation of the Coliseum property into a 150-acre (0.61 km2) transformation of surrounding properties. Plans call for more 2,000 residential units (20 percent 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 is slated to cost roughly $3.75 billion.[18]

Construction was not planned to begin until at least mid-2009, and had not begun as of 2011. 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.[18] The Lighthouse Project then went before the Town of Hempstead for approval on a change in land zoning.[19]

On August 1, 2011, voters in Nassau County rejected a proposal for a taxpayer-funded new arena to replace the Nassau Coliseum. 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.[20] However in May 2013, Forest City Enterprises, the owner of Barclays Center, and Jay-Z have committed to redeveloping the arena and having the Islanders play six games per season at the Coliseum after their move to Brooklyn.[21]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hirshon, Nicholas (2010). Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Images of America. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-7357-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Koppett, Leonard (February 11, 1972). "Nets to Open Nassau Coliseum Tonight in Game With Condors". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  3. Severud Associates - Projects
  4. 4.0 4.1 "New York Nets". Remember the ABA. Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  5. Moran, Malcolm (March 8, 1982). "Highly-Rated Teams to Hit the Road for N.C.A.A. Tourney". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  6. Wallace, William N. (March 14, 1994). "Big East Turns Draw Into Festival". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  7. Longman, Jere (March 15, 2001). "Once Lowly, Sankes and Holy Cross Bounce Back". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-07-01.
  8. Sprechman, Jordan; Shannon, Bill (1998). This Day in New York Sports. Sports Museum Press. p. 128. ISBN 1-57167-254-0.
  9. Kornheiser, Tony (December 17, 1976). "Sets Change to a Juicier Nickname". The New York Times. Retrieved February 14, 2010.
  10. Mifflin, Lawrie (February 9, 1983). "Gretzky Scores 4 in Third to Lead Campbell". The New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
  11. "NYSPHSAA Wrestling Championships - Tournament History". Retrieved 2013-02-22.
  12. Schultz, Kevin (January 19, 2013). "Devils 2, Islanders 1 — Slow, Sloppy Post-Lockout Hockey". SportsNet New York. Retrieved January 20, 2013.
  13. 1977 A Day At The Races North American Tour Ultimate Queen. Retrieved August 31, 2011
  14. "Frank Zappa Gig List: 1988".
  15. IMDB Entry for Billy Joel Live from Long Island
  16. "Seating Capacities of the 30 NHL Arenas". Edmonton Journal. May 7, 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  17. Young, Monte R. (September 28, 2004). "Visions of $200M Renovation". Newsday.,0,1458075.story?coll=ny-linews-print.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Moore, Elizabeth (March 10, 2009). "Even Without Stimulus, Nassau Committed to Lighthouse". Newsday. Retrieved August 26, 2008.
  19. Rieber, Anthony (March 4, 2009). "Papers Reveal Isles Will Leave Without Lighthouse OK". Newsday. Retrieved August 26, 2009.
  20. Gretz, Adam (October 24, 2012). "New York Islanders will move to Brooklyn in 2015". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 24, 2012.
  21. "Ratner, Yormark: Brooklyn-Based Islanders would Play 6 Games at Nassau Coliseum". SB Nation. May 2, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013.

External links