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EntertainmentMusicBilly Joel

After epic Billy Joel send-off, he sees lights go out at Coliseum

Long Island's Piano Man, Billy Joel, took the stage for Nassau Coliseum's last concert before its renovation on Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. Elated fans started lining up hours before the show, during which the entertainer was introduced by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (Credit: Newsday Staff and Nassau Coliseum)

The Last Man Out of the Nassau Coliseum turned off the lights, locked the doors and had them chained shut barely more than an hour after Billy Joel's Tuesday night -- and very nearly into Wednesday morning -- concert.

That man is one of several security supervisors employed full time at the Coliseum under the previous management company, SMG of Pennsylvania. The crew was kept on for the Coliseum's farewell event by the new management team, Forest City Ratner.

"We're under orders not to speak to the media," the security supervisor said when asked for his name. But he allowed a reporter to make the rounds with him and some of his staff after the concert.

Minutes after the show, which ran just short of four hours before Joel exited the stage at 11:56 p.m., the concourse leading to the surrounding parking lots was mostly empty except for lines to the restrooms and shoppers seeking bargains on the last few Billy Joel T-shirts. A few stragglers remained near their seats, taking selfies with the stage as their backdrop or peering at the electronic ribbon proclaiming, "Bring Your Roar to Brooklyn," an apparent bid to lure Islanders fans to the team's new home at Barclays Center.

The Last Man Out has worked at the Coliseum for many years. On this night he supervised a crew of 100 -- bigger than usual, he said -- because the concert was a sellout.

"Most of the guys work other jobs for the county," he said. "We just have a skeleton crew of full-timers. We're hoping to get work when the new coliseum opens next year, maybe some other work in the meantime."

Once the security crew began to outnumber the fans still on the concourse, he ordered his staff to fan out to make sure no one was left inside. When asked if that had ever happened, he said, "Not on my watch. Besides, who wants to be locked up in here? Certainly not for the last time."

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Besides sweeping the premises for lingering fans, the crew also sweeps the concourse floor. Locking up is a simple matter of flipping a switch, as easy as turning out the lights. "But then we go around chaining each door," he said. It's a routine Coliseum practice, he said, not just on this final night.

Sounding wistful, he recalled other final days or nights in recent months of Coliseum history: The last Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus performance on March 8. The final Nassau County home game for the Islanders, a game 6 win over the Washington Capitals on April 25. (The Islanders lost game 7 in Washington, eliminating them from the playoffs and any further games at the Coliseum.)

Mandy Guttman, spokeswoman for Forest City Ratner, said environmental testing would begin as early as Wednesday so that construction can start later this month.

Meanwhile, the security supervisor was about to lock the doors for the final time about 1 a.m.

But his night wasn't over. "We have to lock the parking lot gates, too," he said. "And there's always someone who forgot where they parked their car or can't get it started."


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