Nassau Coliseum Closing as Operators Seek Investors

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The New York Islanders’ move out of their Long Island home is coming earlier than expected.

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the home of the Islanders, is being closed indefinitely by Onexim Sports and Entertainment. The arena, which opened in 1972, will likely return under new investors, but the Islanders are expected to move into their new stadium at Belmont Park in October 2021.

An unnamed source told Bloomberg that Onexim, which is owned by Mikhail Prokhorov and runs the arena through a lease with Nassau County, has told investors it would turn over the lease in return for assuming roughly $100 million in loans on the property. Onexim could also surrender the lease to the Uniondale arena to the lenders.

“The unforeseeable and unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on the operations of the Coliseum and its finances,” Onexim said in a statement, according to Bloomberg. “While we still believe in the enormous long term economic value of the Coliseum and the development of the surrounding land, we recognize that such value will be best realized by other parties.”

The NHL’s 2019-20 season has been suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and is reportedly looking at a neutral site for teams to gather to finish out the schedule. The Coliseum also hasn’t been able to host concerts or events, and the pandemic slowed the construction of the “Nassau Hub,” a plan to develop the area surrounding the arena. Bloomberg reported that Nassau County executive Laura Curran is optimistic that the development project will move forward and the Coliseum will continue to host events after new investors take over the arena.

By then, the Islanders are expected to play in their new home at Belmont Park in Elmont, which began construction in September 2019. In the meantime, the Islanders will play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the home of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and a frequent home of the Islanders in recent years.

The Islanders began to play at Barclays in 2015, when the Coliseum closed for a $180 million renovation. It reopened in 2017, and the Islanders had split time between Brooklyn and Long Island. New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced in February that all of the Islanders’ home games in 2020-21 would be played at the Coliseum, where the franchise had won four Stanley Cups.

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