Billy Joel once again reigns over the renovated Nassau Coliseum, after a banner bearing his name was raised to the rafters Monday night.
The new banner bears the number 33 — the number of concerts Joel will have performed in the arena following his show Wednesday night, the first since the arena’s $165 million renovation.
Though he was the one being honored, Joel praised those involved in the renovation, which he said looked “really cool, like a half-raised Jiffy Pop bag.” “It’s a great honor to play the first concert here,” Joel said, adding that so many of his career milestones had taken place in the area. He told the small crowd gathered on the arena floor about a Coliseum show he played with Elton John. “I said I grew up 15 minutes from here,” said the Hicksville native. “And Elton said, ‘I threw up 15 minutes from here.’ So everyone has their memories.”
The new banner, which was raised while Joel’s song “You’re My Home” played on the loudspeakers, replaced the previous Joel “9” flag, which commemorated his record-setting nine sold-out shows at the Coliseum in 1998. It is currently the only banner that hangs in the rafters.
Joel has kept his plans for Wednesday under wraps, but he did mention that he would pay tribute to area veterans to commemorate the fact that the arena will still be known as the NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. At the final show of the original Coliseum, Joel played a marathon three-hour set that included a guest appearance from Paul Simon.
Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, the company that now manages the Coliseum, said Joel was the only artist considered to close the original Coliseum and open the renovated one.
“He is Mr. Long Island,” Yormark said. “He means so much to the community.”