Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a beloved landmark on Long Island, has been the site of countless sports and entertainment events over its 50-year history.
Despite its rich legacy, the future of the Coliseum is now in doubt with the announcement of a multi-billion-dollar resort to be built at the Nassau Hub by Sands, a Las Vegas-based casino and resort company.
While the project still needs approval from the Nassau County Legislature and the Town of Hempstead Zoning Commission, it has been described as “The biggest deal that Nassau County has ever made” by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman.
This proposed development, estimated to cost between $4-5 billion, will comprise of several amenities, including a casino, hotel rooms, ballrooms, conference spaces, live entertainment venue, restaurants, health club, and spa.
During a press conference on Wednesday announcing the new leasing deal of the property, Blakeman was asked about the future of the Coliseum in regard to the proposed Sands resort.
“That’s a great question,” said Blakeman. “When you are receiving this kind of money, you have to give your tenant a certain amount of leeway to develop the property the way they want to. They will have the opportunity to make decisions about the future of the Coliseum.”
Assuming it gains full approval and a casino license from New York State, it will be up to Sands to decide whether the Coliseum will be part of the complex or if it will be demolished.
“There’s a chance it remains and I think we’re looking at all the options right now,” said Rob Goldstein, the President of Las Vegas Sands. “It’s a brand-new deal. It’s a $5 billion project. It could remain and it could not. It depends on how things play out.”
The Coliseum has been the home of several sports franchises over the years, including the New York Islanders, who won four Stanley Cup championships while playing there. More recently, the Coliseum has been home to the National Lacrosse League’s New York Riptide and the NBA G-League’s Long Island Nets.
Blakeman expressed hope that the Coliseum could still be used for sports and entertainment events, even if it’s downsized or re-purposed to add other pro sports like arena football and indoor soccer.
He also acknowledged its historical significance and iconic status.
“I’m hopeful that they will find a use for the Coliseum,” said Blakeman. “That’s going to be within their discretion. They’re paying a significant amount of money and that will be according to their business judgment.”
Although it certainly looks different now after the renovations that took place between 2015 and 2017, the Coliseum still holds a lot of great memories for many Long Islanders. The Coliseum has played host to countless sports and entertainment events, including concerts by local legend Billy Joel, Disney on Ice shows, the Ringling Brothers circus, and the Harlem Globetrotters.
The Nets, a part of the ABA at the time, were led by Julius Erving to two championships in the Coliseum in 1974 and 1976. Pictured here is a photo taken just before the opening night of the then-New York Nets at the “new” Coliseum in 1972.
Top: New York Islanders fans gather outside Nassau Coliseum before Game 3 of the team’s NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Uniondale, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)