Mar 19, 2015

MARCH 19, 2015 -- Top-ranked Kentucky will play in the first sporting event at the reimagined Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island in December 2016. Tonight, the Wildcats play their opening game in the 2015 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

Following an extensive renovation starting this summer, the arena will reopen as a world-class sports and entertainment destination in the week leading up to the Kentucky game. The centerpiece of a major lifestyle and retail development, the reimagined venue will be developed, operated and programmed by Long Island Events Center, the same management team behind Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“I wanted Kentucky to play in the first college basketball game at the renovated Long Island arena because I know what the venue’s resurgence will mean for the area," said Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari, whose team is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation. “We played in the first college basketball game at Barclays Center and the atmosphere was incredible. I expect the same kind of intensity on Long Island, which is going to attract powerhouse teams from around the country and turn what will be a spectacular building into a hub for exciting college basketball.”

In addition to the Kentucky opener (opponent will be announced at a later date), the arena will host the first annual LONG ISLAND HOOPS CLASSIC™, a doubleheader to include national and regional college teams scheduled for November 2017.

In continuing Long Island’s rich hockey history, the arena will introduce FROZEN ISLAND™. Tentatively scheduled for January 28, 2017, the annual college hockey event will feature teams from three of the nation’s top conferences - Atlantic Hockey Conference, Hockey East, and the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) - for a two-day, four- team event. The tournament, in partnership with Play By Play Sports, LLC will mark the first time the arena has ever showcased such a competitive level of collegiate hockey.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than Kentucky to open our stunning new venue on Long Island,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets. “As we did at Barclays Center, we are going to bring the best of college basketball to the Island. We are also particularly excited to host the country’s top college hockey teams in an area that’s a hotbed for the sport.”

“Our vision was to bring big time sports and entertainment to Nassau County and I know this is the first of many great announcements from the team led by Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark,” said Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano.

“Play By Play Sports is thrilled to help bring this annual college hockey event to Long Island,” said Tim Roth, Senior Vice President, Play By Play Sports. “Major conferences such as the Atlantic Hockey Conference, Hockey East and the ECAC are excited to work with us to create an event highlighting some of the most prominent programs in college hockey."

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