Outside, it might have been drizzly and cold, but inside spirits were running high among officials on Friday as they cut the ribbon on the new NYCB Live Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, revamped at a cost of $165 million in private funding by Forest City Ratner Companies. Billy Joel will open the remodeled Coliseum on April 5.
Media thronged the Coliseum and its environs for a morning and afternoon of news conferences and tours of the 416,000-square-foot structure, which now glimmers in the middle of Nassau’s Hub, the academic and shopping district at the heart of the county.
“Our goal was to create a space that reflected the tremendous sense of place that permeates Long Island, from the look of the building to the taste of the food,” said Bruce Ratner, executive chairman of Forest City Ratner. “Our talented architectural and development teams have succeeded beyond our dreams, creating a venue that is visually striking and wonderfully comfortable.”
Some 4,700 brushed aluminum fins enclose the rotunda, creating the sense of waves rolling onto a beach, or as officials said, “a subtle flow that reflects the big skies of the flat Long Island landscape.” The fins can be lighted up in multiple colors at night. The architecture firm SHoP Architects designed the exterior, and Gensler, the interior.
The ribbon cutting put an end to the decade and a half of wonder among Nassau residents about what, precisely, would become of the Coliseum. Opened in 1972, it had fallen into disrepair over the decades. County officials complained that it was hard to attract A-list acts to the Coliseum because of the structure’s deteriorated state. Many even questioned whether there would be a Coliseum in the future.
Big-name acts now scheduled to appear at the Coliseum in the coming months include Stevie Nicks (April 6), Marc Anthony (April 9), Barbra Streisand (May 4), Metallica (May 17), The Weekend (June 3) and Bruno Mars (Oct. 5).
About 1,500 employees have been hired to work at the Coliseum, and were trained at the Disney Institute, the business advisory arm of the Walt Disney Company, to provide best hospitality industry practices for event attendees, officials said.
“My administration is proud to have partnered with Nassau Events Center to jumpstart previous efforts to transform Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum into a world-class venue,” County Executive Ed Mangano said. “Together, we delivered a modern venue — at no cost to taxpayers.”
Ground was broken on the Coliseum project in November 2015. “It was remarkable to drive by every day and watch the renovation done to this building,” said Norma Gonsalves, a Republican from East Meadow, who is presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature. “I’m proud of the union labor who worked tirelessly year-round to turn this building into the wondrous facility it is today.”
“We believe that NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, will not only become a regional destination, but also serve as a place of pride for all Long Islanders,” said Andrew Kaplan, executive vice president of New York Community Bank.
A formal dedication of the venue’s new memorial will be held on April 8 to honor the veterans who have served the nation.
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