According to a report from Bloomberg, Long Island’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is closing its doors. As the report explains, “Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment, which operates the arena under a lease from Nassau County, is planning to shutter the venue indefinitely while it seeks investors to take over operations and pick up the remaining debt on the building, according to people familiar with the matter.”
Onexim Sports and Entertainment reportedly informed potential investors that it would turn over the lease “in return for assuming roughly $100 million in loans on the property.” The firm may also turn over the lease to its current investors.
While the arena has been empty since the onset of the coronavirus crisis and events appear unlikely to return at that scale in the foreseeable future, Bloomberg‘s source noted that the lease on the arena includes “development rights that could be valuable to property investors.”
The Uniondale, NY arena originally opened in 1972 and served as the longtime home of the NHL‘s New York Islanders. The arena closed for a $180 million renovation in 2015, during which time the team played its home games at Brooklyn, NY’s Barclays Center, the home of the NBA‘s Brooklyn Nets which Prokhorov owned at that time. The Coliseum reopened in 2017 and has hosted roughly 200 events a year since, including concerts, minor-league basketball, and professional lacrosse.
The renovated arena, branded as NYCB Live, had also rekindled long-running relationships with touring bands in 2019. On November 6th, 2019, Dead & Company were honored with a tie-dye banner celebrating 44 total Grateful Dead/Dead & Co shows at the venue. Phish also returned for their seventh Nassau performance and first in 16 years the following month.
After the Islanders split their home games between Nassau and Barclays the last two years, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced in February that all of the New York Islanders‘ 2020–2021 season home games would be played at Nassau. The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, cast doubt on those plans when it prompted the NHL to suspend its season in March.
Last week, the league announced a contingency plan which would forego the remainder of the regular 2019–2020 season and instead mount a competition between 24 qualifying teams in two hub cities to decide the next Stanley Cup champions. The specific hub cities for the modified Stanley Cup tournament have not been announced, although Nassau Coliseum was not named among a list of potential candidates.