The Nassau Coliseum, which is temporarily acting as the home of the NHL’s New York Islanders while their new venue at Belmont Park is being completed, is closing its doors, according to a report by Patrick Clark of Bloomberg.com.
The building’s operator, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, will keep the doors locked indefinitely until an investor is found that will take over operations and pick up the remaining debt on the venue.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Coliseum — which is owned by Nassau County — has been closed since March with no revenue coming in as all hockey games and live events, including concerts, were postponed indefinitely.
“I was very disappointed to hear this, but I can’t say I was surprised,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “Arenas are really taking a hard hit since the pandemic and the Coliseum has been dark for months now. Like with everything else, we will regroup, we will find our way forward… We will analyze everything, look at all of the options.. and we will recover from this.”
Per Clark, Prokhorov and his Onexim Sports and Entertainment, “would turn over the lease in return for assuming roughly $100 million in loans on the property.” Arena employees are already being laid off.
“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,” an Onexim statement read.
At the surface, this throws an enormous wrench in the Islanders’ plans over the next two years as the team could be rendered homeless until Belmont is completed.
“No comment at this time,” an Islanders spokesperson told amNewYork Metro.
In February, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the team would be playing all of its remaining home games at the Coliseum on Long Island until their new arena at Belmont Park was ready. It officially ended a broken relationship with the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which the team called home since 2015.
However, the Islanders will not be playing a home game at the Coliseum from anywhere between four-to-six months depending on when the 2020-21 NHL season begins.
While the league is working toward returning to action in late-July for an expanded postseason that will include the Islanders, all games will be played at two neutral sites — and the Nassau Coliseum was not up for consideration.
In a best-case-scenario-type situation, it allows ample time for Prokhorov to find the necessary investors to pay down the debt and re-open the doors, whether that be the Islanders or an outside party. But Newsday’s Jim Baumbach reports that the team will likely play its games next season at the Barclays Center