Nassau Coliseum to be shuttered indefinitely, operations group seeking investors
The Nassau Coliseum will close indefinitely, and the arena's operating group will seek options for who could operate it next.
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's company, Onexim, which operates the Uniondale arena, plans to shutter it indefinitely. Onexim is said to be seeking investors to take over operations and pick up the remaining $100 million debt on the building.
Arena employees are also reportedly being laid off.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has brought challenges to arenas across the country, and our Coliseum is no exception, without hockey to anchor the venue," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said in a statement. "Nassau County is encouraged that Onexim is speaking to their lenders and other potential investors and we remain focused on development plans with RXR Realty, a strong and committed partner on this project. Transforming the Hub site, important before the pandemic, is now even more critical to Nassau's economic comeback. We have momentum, and the collaboration of community stakeholders, elected leaders, business and labor, to ensure our success."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had said in February that the Islanders would play every home game next season at Nassau Coliseum. The arena has hosted Islanders games since 1972.
In a statement, Onexim said, "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."
They added that up to this point, full-time employees were kept at full salary and part-time employees received assistance. Onexim says it currently has about 20 employees working directly for the company. They will receive a one-month severance.
The statement continued, "While we still believe in the enormous long term economic value of the Coliseum and the development of the surrounding land, Nassau Events Center recognizes that such value will be best realized by other parties."
Onexim confirmed it is in talks with the county and potential investors to find who could potentially take over operations.
Neighboring restaurants and businesses have relied on Coliseum events to help their bottom line, but are now left wondering what impact the closure could have.
Borrelli's Italian Restaurant has been around since before the Coliseum opened.
"Very sad about it. But this doesn't even bother me anymore with this pandemic going on. Emotionally I'm just trying to pay my bills and hopefully just Borrelli's survives with or without Nassau Coliseum," says owner Frank Borrelli. "We're doing one day at a time here."
Nostrand Garden Civic Association leader Pearl Jacobs says her Uniondale neighbors were stunned to hear about the indefinite closing.
"Pre-pandemic we would want that revenue to remain there," says Jacobs. "And of course for sure post-pandemic we really need revenue. We need money. We need vibrancy."
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