The opening of the new Nassau Coliseum with a Billy Joel concert on April 5 will be a major Long Island story.
But come May, the renovated facility will find itself a focus of international attention, through no doing of its own.
That is because on May 21 it is set to host the last show of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the most iconic brand in the circus business.
Already, those looking ahead to that night’s show have driven prices on the secondary ticket market well into the hundreds of dollars, and have given a workout to the phone of Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which operates the arena.
“People better buy their tickets now, because you see what they’re trading for on secondary,” Yormark said at Wednesday night’s Heat-Nets game at Barclays Center. “I mean, I’ve been called probably by about two dozen people saying, ‘Hey, Brett, can you get me tickets to that last show?’
“I’m not surprised at all, especially for folks on Long Island. What we’re telling people in Brooklyn, because the circus is coming here, too [in late February] and for that matter, on Long Island, is if you want to go to a world-class circus - and who knows if your kids will ever go to one again- you have to go now. It does create a bit of urgency.”
Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, announced earlier this month it would shut down after the May 12-21 run at the Coliseum, citing high costs and declining ticket sales.
“In general Long Island historically has always been one of the best family show markets in the country,” Yormark said. “If you speak to the folks at Feld Entertainment, they’ll tell you when the Coliseum was in its heyday it was one of the highest-grossing family venues.
“So, does it make sense for us to host the last ever? It probably does, just given the marketplace and the history.”