County issues notice of default to Nassau Coliseum operators

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Nassau County issued a notice of default for the operators of the Nassau Coliseum to pay outstanding rent debt last week. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Nassau County issued a notice of default to Nassau Events Center LLC and it’s parent company Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings on Thursday to pay off $2 million in payments for the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and a surrounding 72 acres of land.

The Coliseum, known for hosting hockey games, concerts, circus shows and other entertainment events, shut its doors in mid-June due to the increased amount of debt accrued over the past five years.

According to county officials, if the $2 million in payments is not paid within 15 days, it would constitute an event of default under the Coliseum’s lease. 

The lease, according to officials, allows for an additional 30-day period for the Nassau Events Center’s leasehold lender, Nassau Coliseum Funding 100 LLC, to provide the county with current rent payments before the county could terminate the lease.

“We did not take today’s action lightly and believe it is the best way to bring all parties to the table,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I am committed to swiftly reviewing any proposals to get a plan for the building and the redevelopment back on track for the benefit of all our residents – including our devoted Islanders fans – who were looking forward to a final season at the Barn.”

A spokeswoman for Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and operator of the Coliseum, said Prokhorov is seeking investors to take over the barn’s lease, which includes 13,000 seats and $100 million in debt related to 2015 renovations.

“We cannot predict or control the actions of other interested stakeholders,” Prokhorov spokeswoman Ellen Pinchuk said. “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.”

Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment holds the lease of the Coliseum through Nassau County. The decision comes three months after the coronavirus pandemic and the announcement that Gov. Andrew Cuomo made that the New York Islanders, who for years called the Coliseum home, would play their 2020-21 home games in Uniondale.

Prokhorov bought a controlling stake in the company redeveloping the Coliseum and building an adjacent retail and entertainment complex in 2015.

Curran announced on Tuesday that progress had been made for future plans for the United States Immigration Fund to step into the shoes of the Nassau Events Center to bring the Islanders back to the Coliseum for the 2020-21 season.

“Onexim is in active discussions with USIF to allow USIF to step into Onexim’s role as a partner with RXR in the site’s redevelopment,” RXR Realty Chairman and CEO Scott Rechler said. “We’re also in discussions with the County and Town of Hempstead about progressing our plans for the Nassau Hub redevelopment, as well as potential operators for the Coliseum.”

According to Newsday, behind the lending group is Nick Mastroianni, a Huntingon native whose funds come from an EB-5 visa program that provides visas to investors predominantly from China in exchange for projects that create jobs.

Efforts to reach Mastroianni for comment were unavailable.

As of now, the National Hockey League continues to work on finishing the 2019-20 season with a plan that includes 24 teams playing in two cities.  Once the season resumes, the Islanders are matched up against the Florida Panthers in a best-of-five game playoff series.

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