|Nassau Coliseum, The Coliseum|
|Location||1255 Hempstead Turnpike (State Route 24), New York, New York 11553|
|Owner||Nassau County, New York|
|Construction cost||$31 million United States dollar (USD)|
|Architect||Welton Becket and Associates|
|Capacity||Ice Hockey: 16,234|
|New York Islanders (NHL)|
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.
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 had been home to the New York Nets basketball team of the American Basketball Association and later the National Basketball Association from 1972–1977.
The Nassau Coliseum hosted minor league hockey prior to the awarding of the Islanders franchise, a gimmick 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. It 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.
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.
The Coliseum is currently the third-oldest arena in active use by an NHL team (after Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena and 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, as well as many other things to the area. 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.
Construction is 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. 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 off of Long Island.
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