Billionaire Owner Mikhail Prokhorov Is Looking to Sell Long Island's Nassau Coliseum

Nassau Coliseum
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Nassau Coliseum

Nassau Coliseum in Long Island is closing indefinitely as billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov looks to unload the more than 13,000-seat arena.

First reported by Bloomberg, Prokhorov's Onexim Sports and Entertainment is allegedly seeking investors to take over the home arena for the National Hockey League's New York Islanders. Onexim has reportedly told investors that it will hand over the 49-year lease it signed in 2013 in exchange for assuming around $100 million in loans on the sporting arena and music venue.

"Onexim Sports and Entertainment, through its affiliate, Nassau Events Center, LLC (NEC), has invested over $80 million in equity as part of a $180 million project to completely refurbish and reposition NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and surrounding land as a transformative live, work, and play destination. Until the emergence of the COVID-19 crisis, we were well on the way to realizing this dream," Onexim said in a statement provided to Billboard. "Sadly, the unforeseeable and unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on the operations of the Coliseum and its finances, and delayed the planned development."

The statement continues: "Notwithstanding the complete lack of Coliseum income since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, to date, the Coliseum had continued to retain all of its full-time employees at full salary, made significant contributions to assist the Coliseum’s part-time event workers, fully reimbursed ticket-holders whose events were cancelled, made restitution to those who booked events cancelled by the COVID pandemic, and continued to maintain the Coliseum in pristine condition."

Like all arenas across the country, Nassau Coliseum halted operations in March as large gatherings bans were put into place to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. The shuttered venue was expected to see the Islanders spend the full season at the arena after splitting their time between Nassau and Brooklyn's Barclays Center from 2018-2019. The Islanders played exclusively at Barclays from 2015 to 2017 while Nassau Coliseum underwent a $260 million renovation for the building that first opened its doors in 1972.

"While we still believe in the enormous long term economic value of the Coliseum and the development of the surrounding land, [Nassau Events Center, LLC] recognizes that such value will be best realized by other parties. Accordingly, NEC has engaged with Nassau County, other important stakeholders, and potential investors to find the right party or parties to take over operations of the Coliseum," the statement reads. "We cannot predict or control the actions of other interested stakeholders. However, we remain confident that the Coliseum and the proposed development project represent valuable investment opportunities, committed to the effort to find the right solution to the problems confronting the Coliseum, and hopeful that these efforts will bear fruit."

Prior to COVID-19, the Coliseum was set to see a run of Cirque Du Soleil's Crystal and continues to have shows for Judas Priest and Michael Bublé posted for 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The New York Islanders were already expected to move in 2021 to their new home in Elmont, New York. The tentatively-named Belmont Park Arena is a $1.3 billion development scheduled to open next year.

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