NASSAU VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM
STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANK: #29
- Uniondale, New York
- Opened 1972
- Renovated 2017
- Capacity 13,917
- Games attended: 1
- Last visited: 2020
The Nassau Coliseum had a reputation for being a bare-bones dump prior to the $100 million renovation. I don’t think that’s true anymore.
It’s still a bit of a throwback. There are only 32 luxury suites, and they sit above the upper deck of seats, and not in between the lower and upper bowls. There is no Club Level. As such, for the common fan whose concern is his or her view and not the owner’s revenue and wealth streams, the upper-level seats are the closest to the ice in the NHL. This proximity of “the real fans” can help create more energy in the building despite its low seating capacity; unlike most larger rinks, this place feels full even if there are only 13,000 people there. Attendees tend to be older, long-time supporters (often wearing vintage New York Islanders jerseys) making it a savvier, albeit cynical, crowd.
The renovations helped with some sore spots. With the reduced capacity, every fan got more room. Washrooms were doubled. A VIP area was added beneath part of the lower bowl. And the new exterior, with the façade featuring 4,700 aluminum fins, looks a hell of a lot sharper than the old Soviet-style concrete design.
But even after the renovations, the place is still flawed. Concourses are still cramped and concessions were surprising inefficient with long lines and poor throughput (at least on the night that I attended). Unless you live/work in Nassau or Suffolk county, getting here can be a pain; the rink is 30 miles from NYC and it’s easier with a car since public transit involves a rail line and a bus through dodgy Hempstead, or the LIRR and an Uber. And there’s very little within walking distance other than a Marriott and a few fast food joints, meaning the pre-game scene is lacking.
This is among the last of the “old-style” arenas in use in the NHL and reminds us of a simpler time in pro sports. The Isles will soon be in a brand new 19,000-seat facility in Belmont Park, so I suggest that any hockey fan interested in seeing how rinks USED to be (whilst enjoying modern seat comfort and restrooms) make a journey to Long Island in the very near future.