Long Island Arena
Throughout the 70s, the Long Island Arena served the community by hosting hundreds of various events, sporting and otherwise. It would also become a footnote in rock and roll history thanks to a hit song that was recorded there in 1975. Let’s take a closer look at the history of this iconic Long Island venue that thrived in the 70s, yet now only exists in the form of memories.
Located on the south side of Veteran’s Hwy, next to the old Commack Drive-in and roller rink, the Long Island Arena was constructed in 1956 and opened in 1959. The following year, both Kennedy and Nixon gave campaign speeches to enormous crowds at the under-prepared arena.
The Long Island Arena’s primary function in the 60s was hosting hockey games, serving as the home of the local pre-Islanders hockey team, the Long Island Ducks. They played there from 1959 until the 1973 demise of the Eastern Hockey League. At the end of the 60s, the arena also provided a temporary home to the New York Nets basketball team.
The Long Island Arena also hosted plenty of non-sports events back in the day. The Suffolk County Fair was held there for many years, and the Cole Brothers circus paid more than a few visits as well, delighting Long Island children to no end.
Of course, what slightly-older 70s kids are likely to remember most fondly about the Long Island Arena are the many concerts held at the venue throughout the decade. Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Styx, Frank Zappa, Deep Purple, Fleetwood Mac and The Who all graced the stage there, but it is a live recording made on August 24, 1975 of rock artist Peter Frampton that is most notable.
A song from that performance, “Show Me The Way” was included on the 1976 blockbuster album, Frampton Comes Alive. The tune became a respectable hit for Frampton, rising to the #6 spot on the Billboard Top 100 charts.
Sadly, as the 70s drew down, concerts and circuses would eventually give way to a flea market that moved in on a permanent basis. It would remain at the Long Island Arena well into the 90s. The aging arena finally closed for good in 1996, replaced by a Target store. Sigh.
If you have fond memories of attending any of the above-mentioned events at the Long Island Arena in the 70s, or remember something I forgot, I hope you’ll share your recollections in our comments section below.