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Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Nassau Coliseum, The Coliseum
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum old logo.svg
Location 1255 Hempstead Turnpike (State Route 24), Uniondale, New York 11553
Coordinates 40°43′22″N 73°35′26″W / 40.72278°N 73.59056°W / 40.72278; -73.59056Coordinates: 40°43′22″N 73°35′26″W / 40.72278°N 73.59056°W / 40.72278; -73.59056
Opened February 11, 1972[1]
Owner Nassau County, New York
Operator SMG Management
Construction cost $31 million (USD)
Architect Welton Becket and Associates
Capacity Ice Hockey: 16,234
New York Islanders (NHL) (1972–present)
New York Nets (ABA/NBA) (1972-1977)
New York Sets (WTT) (1974-1977)
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)
New York Majesty (LFL) (2009-present)
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, on Long Island. The Coliseum is 19 miles (30  km) from New York City. It is home to the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League. "Fort Neverlose" was also used as a nickname for Nassau Coliseum during the period between the 1979–80 and 1983–84 seasons as the Islanders won the Stanley Cup four consecutive times.



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 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. The Coliseum is also used for concerts, large exhibitions and shows of various kinds, as well as trade shows (44,000 square feet at the main arena, 60,000 at the Expo Center).



During the New York Islanders run of four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in the early-1980's, Nassau Coliseum was proudly referred to as "Fort Neverlose" by fans of the team. (In those four seasons, the Isles lost just 36 of their 200 regular season and playoff games at home, compiling a 141-36-23 mark.) On February 8, 1983, the arena hosted the NHL All Star Game, during which Wayne Gretzky scored four goals in the third period and was honored as the game's most valuable player.[2]

Prior to the awarding of the Islanders franchise, the Nassau Coliseum hosted minor league hockey, 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 NHL hockey due to the lockout.

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.


From 1972-77, the Coliseum was home to the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association, and later the National Basketball Association. The first event held at the Coliseum was a Nets game against the Pittsburgh Condors on February 11, 1972.[1] The Coliseum also hosted first and second round games of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament in 1982, 1994 and 2001.[3][4][5]


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). In 2008, the Titans moved all of their home games to Madison Square Garden.


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


The New York Sets of the World Team Tennis league played their first game at Nassau Coliseum on May 17, 1974 and won championships in 1976 and 1977.[6] The team changed its name to the New York Apples in 1976 and began playing some of its games at Madison Square Garden.[7]

On October 7, 1989, Howard Stern used the arena for his US Open Sores Competition to have a tennis match with his producer Gary Dell'Abate, who ended up winning. Also in the arena was comedian Sam Kinison and Leslie West of Mountain. The event was sold out in just a few hours. The Star-Spangled Banner was played by Celastein.

Pro Wrestling

The Coliseum has hosted many notable pro wrestling events. It was one of three arenas to host Wrestlemania 2 in 1986. It has played host to a number of other non-televised and televised WWF/WWE events over the years.

Other federations such as Jim Crockett Promotions and WCW have held events at the Coliseum. The 1988 Bunkhouse Stampede pay per view was held during JCP's ill-fated attempt to expand into the Northeast.

WWE is scheduled to host a pay-per-view event titled "WWE Fatal Four Way" at the Coliseum on Sunday, June 20, 2010.[8]


Long Island native Billy Joel is one of the Coliseum's most prolific tenants, holding multiple shows at his hometown arena over the course of his tours. Billy Joel has a "retired number" banner, along with those of Islander greats, hanging from the rafters to commemorate his many Coliseum sellouts.

Led Zeppelin performed June 14 and 15, 1972. That same year the arena was given the nickname "Bust Palace" in for all of the drug arrests at all of the Rock concerts held there, according to talk show host Alex Bennett. Elvis Presley performed four shows in 1973 and two in 1975. Presley was also scheduled to play at the Coliseum on August 22, 1977 but the concert was canceled due to his death, which had occurred six days earlier.[9] David Bowie performed in the Coliseum during his 1976 Station to Station tour. The concert was broadcast on radio, and is one of his most popular live recordings; although the full concert has never been officially issued as an album, it has been heavily bootlegged and circulated by fans. Queen performed at the Coliseum during their Jazz Tour on November 19, 1978. Queen + Paul Rodgers played at the Coliseum during their Queen + Paul Rodgers Tour on March 12, 2006.

The Coliseum was also one of only two US venues chosen a few years earlier when Pink Floyd performed their limited run of shows in support of their 1979 album The Wall in February 1980. One of the shows was filmed and bootlegged and has been heavily traded by fans for years. Eight years later, Pink Floyd recorded and filmed their concert film and album Delicate Sound of Thunder at the Coliseum in August 1988.

New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen also played a memorable New Year's Eve concert at The Coliseum in 1980. Certain songs from the concert were used on his 1986 live album, Live/1975–85. Both Phish and the Grateful Dead frequently played here and both have live albums recorded at Nassau Coliseum: the Grateful Dead (Go to Nassau), Phish (4-2-98, 4-3-98, 2-28-03 of the Live Phish Series). The Dead also performed recently at the Coliseum, on April 24, 2009, during a reunion tour.

In 1990, pop superstar Madonna performed 3 sold-out shows in the coliseum as part of her iconic Blond Ambition Tour. In total, 103,367 spectators flocked to catch the one and only Queen of Pop.

In 2006, The Who Took the stage at Nassau Veterans Coliseum The show was sold out the first 10 minutes. On February 6 and February 7, 2008, the Spice Girls performed to two sold-out crowds as part of their Return of the Spice Girls World Tour. It was their first performance in the New York area as a five-piece act. During the summer of their Spiceworld Tour in 1998, the girls had played the Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, PNC Bank Arts Center, and Madison Square Garden as part of their New York dates, but Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) had left the group right before the American leg of the tour. On December 3 and December 4, 2008, singer Tina Turner performed at the Coliseum as part of her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour.

On March 11, 2009, singer Britney Spears performed at the Coliseum as part of her The Circus Starring: Britney Spears tour. She returned on March 23, 2009 for her second night at the Coliseum, with both shows selling out. On July 19, July 20, and July 21, 2009, the Jonas Brothers performed at the Coliseum for 3 sold out shows. This is the Jonas Brothers second time selling out the venue, after the tour they supported Miley Cyrus in December 2007. Recently in 2009, Brand New performed a sold out concert at The Coliseum, in support of their album "Daisy".[10] Selena Gomez is scheduled to finish her Selena Gomez House of Blues tour there on February 20, 2010.

Other events

The Professional Bull Riders held a Built Ford Tough Series event at the Coliseum in 2000 and 2005; in 2000, the tour was called the Bud Light Cup.

During various times throughout the summer, Jehovah's Witnesses use the arena to hold their annual District Convention.

The parking fields are often used from March through October for Autocross events by such auto clubs like: The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), The BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA) NY chapter, and The Porsche Club of America (PCA). These events take place usually in Lot 8 on Saturdays and Sundays from 9AM till 3–5PM. The events are open to anyone with roadworthy automobile (although club membership garners lower entrance fees).


The Coliseum is currently the third oldest arena in active use by an NHL team (after Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena and nearby Madison Square Garden), and has the smallest capacity of all arenas in the NHL without standing room. The arena has been considered obsolete for many years, and various Islanders owners have been trying to replace the arena for over 10 years. Knowing that the arena was deteriorating, team and County officials announced in 2004 an ambitious plan to renovate the Coliseum, instead of building a whole new arena. The centerpiece of the project was be a 60-story tower (since removed from the plans) designed to look like a lighthouse. Other plans include new housing units (including affordable housing units), athletic facilities, a new minor league baseball stadium, restaurants, and a new hotel. The project would also add trees, water and other natural elements to the area to replace the sea of concrete.[11] On August 14, 2007, Islanders owner Charles Wang and the Lighthouse Development Group, partnered with Rexcorp, created a new plan changing the overall project scale. The 60 story "Lighthouse" has 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 transformation of surrounding properties. The plans currently include over 2,000 residential units (20% affordable housing), a five-star hotel, convention center, sports technology center, 500,000 square feet of retail space, and a sports complex adjacent to the renovated Coliseum. The overall project is slated to cost roughly $3.75 billion.[12]

Construction was not planned to begin until at least mid-2009, and, given the steps that still need to take place, construction will likely begin in 2010 after the 2009-10 hockey season. Nassau County approved the entire Lighthouse development in 2006 on a 16-2 vote, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was recently completed after a state-mandated environmental review.[12] The Lighthouse Project is currently in front of the Town of Hempstead for approval on a change in land zoning. If the approval is not granted, Wang has stated that he may be forced to consider other options, which could include the possibility of moving the team from Long Island.[13]


  • Fans of rival teams as well as frustrated Islander fans sometimes use the moniker "Nassau Mausoleum" to describe the deteriorating conditions of the building. This nickname is also applicable in certain entertainment circles due to their being plagued by injury during performances at the Coliseum. In one such example, in November 2006, an ice skater performing in the Disney On Ice presentation of Princess Wishes was badly injured during a high-risk stunt, breaking his nose and wrist as well as being knocked unconscious for several minutes.
  • Lauryn Hill mentions Nassau Coliseum in her 1998 song Everything is Everything in the line; "Roll with cherubims to Nassau Coliseum"
  • The Lifter Puller song "Nassau Coliseum" is set during a drug arrest at Nassau Coliseum.
  • Scenes for the 2007 movie Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore were filmed at the arena.



  1. ^ a b Koppett, Leonard (1972-02-11). "Nets to Open Nassau Coliseum Tonight in Game With Condors". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  2. ^ Mifflin, Lawrie (1983-02-09). "Gretzky Scores 4 in Third to Lead Campbell". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  3. ^ Moran, Malcolm (1982-03-08). "Highly-Rated Teams to Hit the Raod for N.C.A.A. Tourney". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  4. ^ Wallace, William N. (1994-03-14). "Big East Turns Draw Into Festival". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  5. ^ Longman, Jere (2001-03-15). "Once Lowly, Sankes and Holy Cross Bounce Back". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  6. ^ Sprechman, Jordan; Shannon, Bill (1998). This Day in New York Sports. Sports Museum Press. p. 128. ISBN 1571672540. 
  7. ^ Kornheiser, Tony (1976-12-17). "Sets Change to a Juicier Nickname". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  8. ^ Johnson, Mike (2010-02-27). "Lots More WWE PPV Updates: PPV Locations, New PPV Title Already Changed and More". Pwinsider. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  9. ^ "The Estate of Elvis Presley vs. Nassau County". Supreme Court, Nassau County, New York. 1990-04-14. Retrieved 2010-02-17. 
  10. ^ Spence, Mike (2009-12-01). "Brand New at Nassau Coliseum". New York Press. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  11. ^ Young, Monte R. (2004-09-28). "Visions of $200M renovation". Newsday.,0,1458075.story?coll=ny-linews-print. 
  12. ^ a b Moore, Elizabeth (2009-03-10). "Even without stimulus, Nassau committed to Lighthouse". Newsday. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  13. ^ Rieber, Anthony (2009-03-04). "Papers reveal Isles will leave without Lighthouse OK". Newsday. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 

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