Since 1972, Long Island’s famous Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been in operation as a multi-use indoor arena. Over the years, countless classic sports matchups, concerts, and other entertainment events have been held here. Millions of memories have been created here over multiple generations. Our Long Island workers compensation lawyers view the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum as one of the crown jewels of Long Island. We’d like to take a deeper look at the storied history of this iconic arena.
The Coliseum has undergone a few changes since its opening in 1972. Originally, the structure had a capacity of between 13,000 and 15,000, depending on the nature of the event. In the early 80s, this capacity was raised to approximately 18,000. The Coliseum closed for renovations again in 2015, and the capacity was reduced to 13,000 for hockey games, 13,500 for basketball games, and 14,500 for concerts.
The New York Nets called the Coliseum home from 1972 until 1977, and the first event held here was a Nets game vs. the Pittsburgh Condors on February 11, 1972. The Nets also won two American Basketball Association (ABA) championships in this building, when Hall of Famer Julius Erving was leading the team. Their first title game against the Utah Stars in the 1973-1974 season, and the second against the Denver Nuggets in 1976. Following the 1976 season, the team became part of the National Basketball Association (NBA) during the ABA-NBA merger and moved to New Jersey.
The arena has also hosted many significant college basketball events, including:
- The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Metro Region Tournament in 1978, 1979, 1980, and 1981.
- First and second-round games for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament in 1982, 1994, and 2001.
For over 40 years, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was home ice for the New York Islanders. They played their first game here on October 7, 1972 and their final game on April 25, 2015. The Islanders played 12 Stanley Cup Finals games at the Coliseum, with a stellar 11-1 record.
The Coliseum has hosted several WWE Raw and Smackdown Events over a period of over 30 years. Some of the most famous moments in WWE history have transpired here, including:
- Wrestlemania 2 in 1986, when the event was held in three separate venues. 16,585 fans showed up for four live matches in the Coliseum and then watched other events from Chicago and Los Angeles via closed-circuit TV.
- Raw is War in 1998, when Stone Cold Steve Austin drove a cement truck into the Coliseum and filled Vince McMahon’s Corvette with cement.
- SummerSlam 2002, which was the first SummerSlam event in New York City which wasn’t hosted at Madison Square Garden.
Some of the most legendary names in the history of popular music have played concerts at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, including:
- 4 sold-out concerts from Elvis Presley in 1973. He was also scheduled to begin a summer tour at the Coliseum on August 22, 1977, but died six days before. Tickets for this concert have become rare collector’s items.
- David Bowie performed a radio broadcast at the Coliseum in 1976.
- Queen played here in 1977 and used footage from the performance in the promotional film for the song “Tie Your Mother Down.”
- Led Zeppelin played three nights at the Coliseum in 1975. During the second performance, Ronnie Wood of the Eagles and The Rolling Stones joined them on stage and played “Communication Breakdown” together.
- Pink Floyd played five shows here in 1980 – one of only two venues in the states where they performed for their limited-run The Wall Tour.
- Billie Joel has played here so many times that he has a “retired jersey” in the rafters alongside New York Islander greats.
- Bruce Springsteen has played here several times, including a three-night stand in 1980.
- The Grateful Dead and Phish were both frequent performers at the Coliseum.