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Schwartz: Nassau Coliseum Renovation Kicked Into High Gear

By Peter Schwartz
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During a walk through the arena, it wasn't hard to see the large boxes all over the place.

They were in the upper level, the lower bowl as well as on the arena floor and most of them were still closed. In those boxes were the new seats for the new Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The brackets for those new seats were visible and in place Tuesday as the famed Long Island arena continues major renovations.

"It's a very exciting day," said Kate Girotti, vice president of marketing for Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the company that operates Barclays Center and will also run the new Coliseum. "Putting in the seats makes everybody see that it's real."

Nassau Coliseum
The installation of new seats at Nassau Coliseum began on Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo: Peter Schwartz)

The new Coliseum seats are grey with black trim and are made in the United States by Irwin Seating Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They utilize high-tech fabric that is designed specifically for arena use. There will be plenty of leg room at the new Coliseum, with is being downsized to a capacity of 14,500 for concerts, with the ability to flex up when needed. The venue will also seat 13,000 for hockey, 13,500 for basketball and 4,500 for a theatre configuration.

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At a media event on Tuesday, the first four seats at the new Coliseum were installed in what will be Section 101, which was section 201 in the old Coliseum. Those seats are owned and were picked out by Joe and Maryann Campanelli of Plainview, the first ticket holders to take a seat as part of the new arena's Long Island All Access Pass. They were on hand to see their seats get installed.

"There's such a rich history here of great events over the past few decades and we're really excited to have the Campanelli family here to unveil the new All Access program for us," Girotti said.

Nassau Coliseum
The concourse area inside the new Nassau Coliseum on Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo: Peter Schwartz)

All Access is an annual season ticket program that includes lower bowl tickets to all events at the arena, starting with the grand opening, a Billy Joel concert on April 5. The Campanellis, who grew up on Long Island going to Coliseum events and were high school sweethearts, will have a great location for the concert with the stage just to their right.

"It's a nice view," Joe Campanelli said. "I'm pretty excited. I've seen (Billy Joel) before, but for him to open up the Coliseum is going to be great."

As part of the All Access program, the Campanellis will be able to entertain family, colleagues, and business partners at the many sporting events, concerts, and family shows. Some of the perks of the All Access pass includes VIP parking, a VIP entrance, a VIP lounge and a pre-sale opportunity to purchase additional tickets to events.

To them, the chance to have tickets for every event in the new Coliseum was a no-brainer.

"It's important to us for family and it's important to us for business," Maryann Campanelli said. "We're local residents and we wanted to stay local. It's important for the economy. It's important for jobs and just to be with family and do things together. It's better than traveling far away."

When the old Coliseum closed for the renovations after a Billy Joel concert on Aug. 4, 2015, not only did Long Islanders have to get used to commuting to Brooklyn for Islanders games, they also had to go to other venues in the New York City area to see a game, a concert, the circus, or even an ice show. Now, with the Coliseum re-opening this spring, local residents won't have to go far to see Stevie Nicks, Lionel Richie, Monster Jam, the circus, college basketball, and boxing, among other attractions. It's going to be right in their backyard.

"We're really looking to create an environment that's family friendly and there's something for everyone here at the venue," Girotti said.

Nassau Coliseum
A view of the exterior of the arena as renovations of the new Nassau Coliseum continued on Jan. 10, 2017. (Photo: Peter Schwartz)

Aside from the first look at the seats, Tuesday's media event was also a chance to get a glimpse of the other construction progress. The arena's new exterior is coming along, with the façade in place about halfway around the building. Five of the new Coliseum's 11 suites, located on the south end of the arena, are currently being worked on, with the rest to be completed before the grand opening.

The suites that were on the west side of the Coliseum are being taken apart and covered up. It's possible they could be re-constructed "if needed." There will continue to be a press box at the top of the east side of the Coliseum. A lot of work has been done in the main concourse with the installation of new tiles, walls, bathrooms, and concession stands. The old center-hung scoreboard has been replaced with a brand new scoreboard featuring larger HD video screens.

It's interesting to note that on the scoreboard there are electronic positions for the home and guest (could also be teams) scores as well as the "PERIOD," which is next to the electronic spot for numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. That setup works for sports like hockey, basketball, arena football, and indoor lacrosse or soccer. The Campanellis will see it all.

"We've been here before for concerts and sporting events and we're looking to continue and see what else comes along and see what else they bring," Joe Campanelli said.

Hmmm. Could that mean the return of the Islanders?

"We'll see what happens," he said.

If that should be the case, or even if it's minor league or college hockey, the Campanellis seats will be just inside a blue line.

Don't forget to follow Pete on Twitter @pschwartzcbsfan. You can also follow @nassaucoliseum

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