On Feb. 11, 1972, opening night, Nassau Coliseum was a lighthouse, seemingly directing Long Island into the major leagues.
"It's great to be in a place like this," Rick Barry said that night after scoring 45 points to help the New York Nets defeat the Pittsburgh Condors, 129-121, in an American Basketball Association game. "I was sorry that it couldn't be fully ready . . . but the future here is tremendous."
Still, that unofficial opening 40 years ago -- the ceremonial dedication was May 29 -- did plant some seeds. The Coliseum became the world capital of hockey for four years. Elvis, the Jacksons and Pink Floyd played there. Billy Graham preached there. Joe Frazier and George Foreman boxed there. Thousands of Long Islanders went there to see ice shows, children's shows and all kinds of other events.
For better or worse, it still is standing while Yankee Stadium, for instance, was completely renovated once and then replaced. The building in Uniondale sure seemed spiffy and promising on Day One. The cover of Newsday of Feb. 12, 1972, said: "Coliseum Debut Is a Smash Hit."