After 20 months and $165 million in renovations, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum reopened with a concert from Long Island native Billy Joel.
The first week of the reopening also marked performances by Stevie Nicks and The Pretenders, Idina Menzel, Marc Anthony and WWE Monday Night Raw.
Gina Antoniello, the manager of Communications at Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment – which operates the Coliseum, the Barclays Center and other venues – said, “There is a new allure to the Coliseum … There is an element of nostalgia here too.”
The renovations doubled the number of bathrooms in the venue, brought on new business partners, created a new modern exterior and included high-speed Wi-Fi, according to a press release.
The arena is home to the NBA’s D-League’s Long Island Nets and also hosts a number of college basketball games, championship boxing and other entertainment events. The arena can hold up to 16,000 people for concerts, 14,500 for basketball games, MMA and boxing, and 4,500 for theater productions, according to the press release.
Events are already scheduled into next January, which for Hofstra fans, includes a Hofstra men’s basketball matchup against 2016 NCAA Champions Villanova University.
For local Islanders fans, the event schedule may bring disappointment. However, that may not be for too long. According to a Newsday exclusive and other reports from Bloomberg and CBS, the Islanders may return to their original home at the Coliseum due to issues at the Barclays Center, their current location.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano met with Islanders officials last November about coming back to the Coliseum. It should be noted that the press release detailing the renovations does have a stated attendance for hockey games at 13,900 people, which would make it the smallest arena used in the NHL.
Harrison Grubb, a sophomore journalism major and an engineer for Islanders games on WRHU, hopes they return before he graduates. “As a Hofstra student, it is great to have a venue with so many events so close. But I really want the Islanders to return.”
As a reporter for WRHU, Grubb said, “It would be a tremendous opportunity again for WRHU to continue working with the Islanders … and with hockey being my favorite sport, I’d want them back.”
Antoniello could not confirm an Islanders return, but did confirm the Long Island Nets as the “anchor tenant” like the Islanders once were. As the Islanders once offered discounted tickets for Hofstra students, the question of whether the Long Island Nets will do the same remains unanswered.