It has been over a year since the New York Islanders played their final game at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but a new era at the beloved Long Island arena is coming. The $130 million renovation to the 43-year-old Coliseum is underway with plans to reopen in March 2017.
What some call “The Old Barn” is getting a modern facelift with many new amenities to draw fans to events. 4,000 seats have been ripped out and the new capacity of the arena will be 13,000. The old concession stands that lined the main concourse are gone. Instead, there will be a new beer garden, lounges, and double the amount of restrooms. After the Coliseum renovation is completed, there are plans to use the surrounding area to create an entertainment complex that will include a performing arts theatre, movie theatre, bowling alley, and restaurants. The Coliseum also hopes to attract big names for concerts and events with state of the art dressings rooms and a helicopter shuttle service to and from Manhattan. The dressings rooms will be known as the “Artist Quarters.” Performers will be able to choose from several styles, including Manhattan Modern, Gatsby Gold Coast, the Polo Club, and Hampton Chic.
With the departure of the Islanders, a new team will call the Coliseum home. The Brooklyn Nets NBA Development League franchise, the Long Island Nets, will begin play in Uniondale in the 2017-2018 season. The team will play their homes during their inaugural 2016-2017 season at Barclays Center. Many Long Islanders are still very upset about the Islanders moving to Brooklyn and some aren’t too thrilled about the arrival of a minor league basketball team. Some fans took to twitter thinking that the Brooklyn Nets were moving to the renovated coliseum to play their home games. Other Long Islanders like 19-year-old, Dan Hanson of Long Beach are willing to give the Nets a chance. Hanson attended events at the Coliseum since he was five years old and he plans to continuing going to the arena when it reopens. “ I’ll go to a couple Nets games, but definitely not regularly,” he said.
It will be almost impossible for the Long Island Nets to replace the Islanders in Nassau County, a devoted hockey county. Bayville native and Islanders fan, Christian Manzi believes the Nets will struggle with the locals. “There is no support or interest for a minor league team from people out on the island who are craving their old traditions and a team that brought them decades of memories,” he said. Even though Long Island’s favorite team is gone, the Nets should find a fan base in due time. Hofstra University student and sports fan, Brandon Moody lives in Newport, New York where the closest sports team is the Utica Comets, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks. Moody said that the community has really embraced the Comets and AHL.com even voted Utica the best fan base in the league. “If the fans get behind the Long Island Nets, they can carry them to success,” he said. It may take some time, but the Long Island Nets will eventually find a devoted fan base on the island.