The History of Island Garden

Built in 1957 by Arnold Carlson, a descendant of Swedish immigrants. It was originally a 5,200-seat arena located on Hempstead Turnpike and Cherry Valley Avenue in West Hempstead.  It has held concerts, including Sly and the Family Stone, Cream, The Byrds and Bob Dylan. In addition to concerts, there were also boxing matches, professional wrestling matches, circuses, rodeos, stamp shows, midget car racing and boat shows.


The arena also hosted the New York Nets of the ABA originally from 1969 to 1972.  The Nets later left to play at the Madison Garden Felt Forum and later the newly built Nassau Coliseum.  They joined the NBA in 1976 and eventually became the Brooklyn Nets who play at the new Barclays Arena in Brooklyn.


The arena was abolished after the Nets moved in 1973.  A portion became our neighboring shopping Center and in 1998, a Youth Basketball Arena was rebuilt on the existing Cherry Valley Avenue site.  It has three full courts, training areas for basketball skills and strength rehabilitation and training.  It also has a snack bar and a full-service barber shop.  It is home to Lightning Basketball, an independent nonprofit that was founded in 1992.  It also home to the NYC Urban Initiative currently.  It is used by hundreds of teams and many players, ages 8- 18 as well as many adult leagues.   It offers summer camps; tournaments, special events, volleyball and so much more.


We have hundreds of alumni players from Lightning and AAU teams who have gone on to play in college after receiving many scholarships, which total over $1,000,000 to date.  We have top coaches, including a former D-1 coach of over 18 years and have professional staff.


The facility is owned by JMF sports and operated by Jim Fox who has dedicated his life to basketball and the growth of youth through sports.  As an educator, Jim strongly believes in providing the best training and assistance to encourage our student athletes.  He is the Governor of the NY Metropolitan AAU and truly supports, “Ball for All.”


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