The original Island Garden Arena was built in 1957 by Arnold "Whitey" Carlson a descendent of Swedish Immigrants, Mr. Carlson's grandfather was Henrik Carlson, a noted San Diego sculptor who was the Foreign Art Director for the San Diego Exposition (now Balboa Park). Over the years many concert acts such as Cream, Dave Clark Five, Tiny Tim, Louis Armstrong, The Byrds, Sly and the Family Stone, The Dave Brubeck Quartet and Bob Dylan performed at the venue. In addition to concerts there were also boxing matches, professional wrestling, circus, rodeos, stamp shows, midget car racing, and boat shows.
The 5,200 seat arena also hosted the New York Nets of the American Basketball Association from 1969 to 1972. Hall of Famer Rick Barry led the ABA in scoring during the 1970-71 season. In 1971-72, the nets posted their first winning season, advancing all the way to the ABA Finals, where they lost to the Indiana Pacers. The franchise stabilized. Late in the season, the team moved from the Garden (capacity 8,500) and moved into the new Nassau Coliseum (17,800 capacity). In 1976 the Nets franchise merged into the National Basketball Association, where they have remained, eventually becoming today's Brooklyn Nets. The Nets were unable to play any home playoffs games in 1971 because the arena was booked with other events.
The arena was partially demolished in 1973, unable to compete with the newer and larger Nassau Coliseum. A shopping center was built on that portion of the site. The remaining portion of the structure was reviatlized into a new youth basketball venue in 1998.