Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
1255 Hempstead Turnpike
Uniondale, NY 11553
Year Opened: 1972
The connection between New York and the National Lacrosse League is a long and significant one. The New Jersey Saints were one of the original Eagle Pro Lacrosse League teams and won the original championship in 1988. They immediately moved to Long Island to become the New York Saints, where they continued to participate in the various iterations of the league until 2003. The New York Titans would split time between Long Island and Midtown for their three seasons before moving to Orlando in 2009. In 2018, New York would once again be awarded an expansion team in the NLL and a return to Long Island was in the cards for the newly minted New York Riptide.
The return to Long Island would bring with it a return to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Famously the home of the NHL’s New York Islanders during their four Stanley Cup run in the eighties, the Nassau Coliseum has received a significant facelift in 2017. Originally opened in 1972, the county owned Nassau Coliseum experienced a massive renovation which included a significant reduction in capacity, deadly for NHL hockey, but perfect for NLL lacrosse.
Food & Beverage 3
The concession options are fairly simple for a Riptide game. Hot Dogs, burgers, chicken tenders, fries, popcorn and pretzels are all available. Grilled chicken options as well as chicken wraps and hummus and veggies give a few different options, however, the menu remains not overly complicated. Pepsi products are the soft drink of choice at the Nassau Coliseum. There are a few different beer options including Coors Light, Bud Light, Corona, and Heineken. Lost Farmers IPA and Riptide Double IPA are unique options that may be preferable.
The renovation of the Nassau Coliseum was significant and necessary. It seems that not much was untouched from the original Coliseum to the newly renovated one. Beginning on the exterior, the Coliseum now features sleek looking slats on the upper façade, giving the building some texture as opposed to the old concrete and siding. The vast majority of the concourse is wrapped in glass doors at the street level that allow plenty of natural light into the building. Fans will enter the building on the east side, where the box office is. Some flags on the east side remind fans that the venue is a living memorial for those who have given their lives in service of their country.
The interior of the concourses have been resurfaced with new flooring and new wall coverings. The concourse is a simple ring with plenty of natural light allowed inside. The concourses are not overwhelming or anything, but they’re clean and smart looking. The interior walls feature a number of framed photos highlighting important events in Coliseum history, mostly musical acts. When entering the seating bowl, fans will see a two tiered seating bowl, divided by an interior walkway. The seating bowl is also clean and sharp with new, comfortable seats and great sightlines. The façade at the walkway is decorated with a faux wood panel which gives it a classy look and the upper levels are painted a sleek and menacing black. The floor runs from south to north and the perfect picture of the center logo is taken from the east. The Nassau Coliseum goes to the next level with alternative seating. A floor level, social area called the Sandbar is at the north end of the arena. Rather than having seating right up to the boards on both the east and west sides of the arena, the east side features floor level suites. A number of LED ribbon boards can be seen around the arena and a modest, yet effective video scoreboard hangs above the floor.
The gameday atmosphere at a Riptide game is what one would expect for an NLL game. The gameplay has music playing throughout and the Riptide Dance Crew performs between quarters and takes part in the pregame introductions. The mascot, Eddy, can be found on the floor during pregame and traversing the stands during the game. The PA announcer, Colin Cosell, has a relaxed, familiar style that has him almost conversing with the crowd at times.
The Nassau Coliseum is located in Uniondale on Long Island. There are a few other sporting options in the area. The Nassau Coliseum is also the home to the Long Island Nets of the G-League. Within walking distance of the Coliseum is the campus of Hofstra University, where the Pride play baseball at University Field and they play basketball at the David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Stony Brook University is further east on Long Island and the Seawolves play basketball at Island Federal Credit Union Arena and baseball at Joe Nathan Field. The Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League play at Fairfield Properties Ballpark. Of course, the New York Islanders play in Elmont at UBS Arena. If that isn’t enough, heading into New York City will expand the number of options in a massive way. As far as other entertainment options, Belmont Park isn’t far and heading into the city provides a number of other options. The Cradle of Aviation Museum and Long Island Children’s Museum are close to the Coliseum. As far as pre and post game options, there are a number. Borrelli’s, The Greene Turtle and Colony Diner are some good options. The Long Island Marriott is very close for those interested in staying near.
The Fans category is becoming increasingly difficult to assess. The attendance at individual games is increasingly not reported. According to uncredited sources, the Riptide averaged over 4,000 fans per game in 2022, which was last in the league. The game that was attended for review reported over 4,000 fans, however there seemed to be closer to 2,000. The fans in attendance are pretty laid back. In order for the Riptide to remain a viable franchise on Long Island, they will have to attract more fans than they currently are.
Getting to the Nassau Coliseum is not terribly difficult, but can take time. The Coliseum is located west of the Meadowbrook State Parkway and north of the Southern State Parkway. Traffic can be horrible, depending on the time of day. Making sure there is plenty of time to get to the arena is the best plan. There is plenty of parking at the Coliseum. For fans wishing to take public transit to the Coliseum, buses travel along the Hempstead Turnpike and the Long Island Railroad can bring fans to nearby Hempstead. Fans should check the Nassau Inter-County Express and MTA websites for maps, fares and schedules. The main entry will be on the east side and the box office can also be found there. With the small attendance, getting around the arena is not difficult and washroom facilities are more than adequate.
Security procedures and protocols at sporting venues are in a constant state of flux. Stadium Journey encourages fans to consult the New York Riptide and Nassau Coliseum websites for the most up to date protocols including prohibited items and bag policies.
Return on Investment 3
A New York Riptide game is a fairly affordable ordeal. Tickets can be found at a variety of price levels and a number of discounts are available. Plan on spending around $40 for a ticket after Ticketmaster fees are taken into consideration. Parking will run $20 and concessions are a bit on the expensive side. The product on the field is exciting, but more fans in the stands will provide a better return for the lacrosse fans’ investment.
An extra mark for the Grateful Dead and Billy Joel banners which remain hanging in the rafters at the Coliseum.
An extra mark for the significant renovation of the Nassau Coliseum, which saved an otherwise doomed facility.
An extra mark for using the classic New York Islanders colors.
The New York Riptide provides a solid sports experience for fans. NLL lacrosse is exciting and good family fun. The opportunity to check out the renovated Nassau Coliseum is attractive for fans and should be grasped. Hopefully, the Riptide can grow their attendance and continue to attract sports fans to Long Island.