Discover Long Island Sports Development Manager Jennifer Rothman, CSEE thinks the revamped Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is out of this world. “It looks like a spaceship,” she says. “But it’s beautiful.”
Smaller than the cavernous facility old-school hockey fans remember, the new-look Coliseum, which opened in April, has a different purpose. For one thing, it seats 14,500 people, far lower than NHL regulations.
Rothman says basketball is the sport of choice to start. The D-League Long Island Nets make their home there already. Rothman is aiming to add more collegiate-level action, as well as state tournaments.
“We miss the Islanders being on Long Island,” admits Rothman of the NHL team that moved to Brooklyn in 2015. “But it’s good because we don’t have to worry about the Coliseum being booked October through April.”
That opens the door for gymnastics, wrestling, indoor lacrosse and UFC events.
Rothman’s big job is to erase memories of the old building. While it hosted championship-level hockey teams, the arena was hardly elite by the time renovations began.
Perhaps more importantly is that the organization behind Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center operates the Coliseum now. The Islanders’ sole focus, naturally, was on hockey. New management has a broader perspective, freeing Rothman to help book new business.
“Sports tourism with this venue is now bigger” than when the Islanders operated the arena, says Rothman. “That’s huge for us.”