The brackets for this year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament are in place. All of the first round match-ups are set. But did you know March Madness was previously held three times at the Nassau Coliseum? That’s when Uniondale was a basketball bastion. For the moment, the planned renovation of the Coliseum begs the question: Could March Madness ever return to Nassau County?
Build it and the NCAA will come
Renovation of the Nassau Coliseum is supposed to begin sometime after the conclusion of the 2015 NHL season. Notice, the key word here is supposed, because plans for restoration of the arena have been nothing less than controversial. Keep your fingers crossed.
When the new and improved Coliseum finally does open, scheduled for 2017, it will be without the lame duck NY Islanders, who have already inked a permanent deal to play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
So, who or what will fill the void left by the Isles departure? No one seems to know the answer to that, not even Bruce Ratner, the developer in charge of the Coliseum project. Yes, it’s the same Bruce Ratner who built the Barclays Center. Wow, how do you like that? What a strange coincidence.
Anyway, since there is going to be plenty of empty space at the Coliseum in the future, why not lure the NCAA back to Uniondale? Oh, didn’t you know the Coliseum previously hosted March Madness?
NCAA tourney and beyond on Long Island
According to nassaucoliseum.com, the arena’s official website, “The NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament first & second round games were held here in 1982, 1994, and 2001.”
Furthermore, in an item published by The Gazette on Apr. 1, 2013, “We adore our coaches…until they lose,” columnist Mike Hlas explained, “It was 2001. Iowa was in the NCAA men’s tournament. Before losing to Kentucky in the second-round, the Hawkeyes defeated Creighton in an NCAA first-round game at Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum…”
Plus, did you know the NBA’s Nets once called the Nassau Coliseum home? Not only that, before “Air Jordan” came along, there was hoopster megastar Julius Erving, or “Dr. J.” As a teen, Erving was weaned on round ball courts not far the Coliseum.
With all that rich basketball history, what’s preventing the NCAA’s March Madness from returning to the Nassau Coliseum in the future? It’s a question worth answering.