The Islanders might call New York their home, but it’s important to remember that the distance separating Uniondale and the New York most people think of, i.e. the Big Apple, is still 45 km, making Nassau Coliseum, shall we say… a little remote. So during our visit to the Islanders, when it came time to decide what tourist attractions to visit for the Long Island edition of our On the Road Blog, we decided to instead focus our energy on Nassau Coliseum, if for no other reason than the Isles will stop calling it their home at the end of the 2014-15 season. At that point, the team will get a little more central with a 2015-16 move to Brooklyn and a state-of-the-art, albeit less historic rink, than the Uniondale arena they’ve called home since1972.
While we were watching practice, we took a glance up into the Nassau Coliseum rafters to get a glimpse of the Islanders’ four Stanley Cup banners from the team’s historic run in the early 80s and were surprised to also be met with a banner dedicated to Billy Joel and his nine sold-out performances from a 1998 world tour. If the Bell Centre were to do something similar, Bon Jovi banners would probably obscure everything the Canadiens have accomplished in the last 100 years. The Nassau Coliseum was also where Joel recorded his Live from Long Island concert special on Dec. 30, 1982 which was broadcast a few days later on HBO.
While admiring the Billy Joel tribute banner, we also couldn’t help but notice another interesting object partially concealed above the Islanders’ center ice. Mostly hidden, but poking out from the bottom of the arena’s central monitor was a giant hanging disco ball. Other than a brief and unexpected foray into music by Guy Lafleur when he released a disco album in 1979, we’re not really sure where hockey and disco intersect on the ol’ Venn diagram of fun, but clearly the good people at Nassau Coliseum at some point did. Maybe it was to kick off the celebrations when the building was voted “Arena of the Year” in 1995.