Mikhail Prokhorov closing Nassau Coliseum, leaving Islanders' future in limbo

Lou DiPietro
June 16, 2020 - 2:06 pm
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The New York Islanders had planned to spend at least one more season at the Nassau Coliseum before moving into their new digs at Belmont Park, but their residency in Uniondale may potentially be over.

According to Bloomberg, former Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment, which operates Nassau Coliseum under a lease from Nassau County, plans to shut down the arena indefinitely while it searches for new investors to take over operations and assume the remaining debt on the building. Per Bloomberg, Onexim has told potential investors that the lease, which also includes development rights for the property, could be had in exchange for assuming roughly $100 million loans on the building itself.

Newsday later confirmed, via a spokesperson for Prokhorov, that Onexim “has engaged with Nassau County, other important stakeholders, and potential investors to find the right party or parties to take over operations of the Coliseum."

"We cannot predict or control the actions of other interested stakeholders," Onexim spokesperson Ellen Pinchuk said in a statement obtained by Newsday. “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."

Now formally branded as NYCB Live: Home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the building reopened in 2017 after undergoing a $180 million renovation that closed the facility for more than 18 months, and it has long been planned to be the centerpiece of development originally known as “The Lighthouse Project” back in 2004 – but, like every other venue in the area, it has been closed (and, thus, making no income) for more than three months amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Coliseum was the full-time home of the Islanders from their inception in 1972 until the arena’s renovation closure in 2015, and earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that it would once again be their home for the 2020 playoffs and at least the 2020-21 season until the Belmont arena is ready.

The team spent three full seasons at Barclays Center from 2015-18 before splitting the last two between NYC and Long Island, and the Nassau closure could force the Isles back into Brooklyn until their new arena is ready.