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Aging arena to be target of asbestos-exposure lawsuits

With the recent trend in professional sports to discard older facilities in favor of new ones, most professional sports facilities have either been replaced or renovated in the last 25 years. Even venerable institutions such as Yankee Stadium have been torn down and replaced with newer versions. In the National Hockey League, Brooklyn's Barclays Center, a facility that opened last fall, is poised to become the home of the New York Islanders starting in the fall of 2015.

For now, however, the Islanders play their games at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. The facility, which opened in 1972, is regarded as perhaps the worst in the NHL due to its age, limited amenities and lack of luxury boxes. And now it appears that many workers at the facility may have developed lung cancer or mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in the facility.

When the Islanders leave for Brooklyn in 2015, the arena will be without any permanent tenants. However, the facility has hosted major concerts in the last four decades and is a major stop for the circus every year. Officials say that a new Long Island facility is needed -- and has been for some time -- but without an anchor tenant, it will be a tough sell for the locals, who would likely view the current building as unspectacular but adequate without a hockey team.

However, the facility's future could be in doubt now that the county is likely to be sued by dozens of carpenters and electricians over exposure to asbestos. The lawsuits could be combined into a class action suit, and damages could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Source: CBS New York, "More Than 100 Nassau Coliseum Workers To File Lawsuits Over Asbestos Exposure," March 25, 2013

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