County issues COVID-related amendments to Coliseum lease with new tenant

Robert Pelaez

Changes were made to the Nassau Coliseum’s lease with its new tenant, Nassau Live Center LLC, last week due to the uncertainty over lingering impacts the coronavirus pandemic may have on Long Island and New York.

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.

Officials said an agreement made in late August with Florida developer Nick Mastroianni II will allow the county to recoup the unpaid rent accrued over the past several years by the Coliseum’s former leaseholder, Mikhail Prokhorov.  Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire and owner of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, accrued more than $2 million of unpaid rent owed by Prokhorov’s Nassau Events Center LLC.

“Our agreement with Nassau Live and RXR Realty recognizes the impact of COVID on Coliseum operations and the surrounding development,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said on Friday. “Those impacts include lost time and delay.  The new tenant and development team need additional time to evaluate post-COVID operations at the Coliseum and develop a sustainable Coliseum plan.”

Amendments to the lease allow for a “COVID-19 Relief Period” during which there will be an abatement of the “minimum rent” payment.  The relief period is scheduled to end six months after the occupancy restrictions set forth by the state government, not to extend past Dec. 31, 2022.  Nassau Live Center will still be held responsible for utilities, security and maintenance of the arena, along with ensuring the venue could still host the New York Islanders or Long Island Nets for 2021 play, if deemed necessary by league officials. 

“This extension coupled with the suspension of rent payments will give Nassau and the HUB team the opportunity to plan for the future, post-COVID, when the entertainment industry restarts,” Curran said. “Once again, as part of our agreement, we will be ensuring that the New York Islanders and the Long Island Nets will play at The Barn in 2021, if the State and League rules permit play. These actions further solidify my commitment to the Coliseum’s success and our vision for a reimagined HUB.”

The amendment also provides that the Nassau Live Center will submit plans for sustained Coliseum operations to county officials, addressing any coronavirus-related implications on building operations and outlining what can potentially be done with the Nassau Hub, a 72-acre paved lot surrounding the Coliseum.

The county issued a notice of default to Nassau Events Center LLC and its parent company, Onexim Sports and Entertainment Holdings, in mid-July to pay off $2 million in payments for the Coliseum and the Nassau Hub.

Curran said both parties were on a “fast track solution” to keep the Coliseum’s doors open for future events.

“This deal follows rigorous negotiations and fulfills my main objectives – forging a path forward for sustained Coliseum operations and keeping us on track to redevelop the Nassau Hub,” Curran said in a statement. “We are pleased to have ensured a swift transfer of the lease to a new tenant eager to resume Coliseum operations and partner with us on Hub redevelopment.”

County officials granted Nassau Live a “standstill period” of 60 days with a potential 30-day extension to provide a more comprehensive plan for sustained Coliseum operations and a request for rent adjustment under the lease.  The county agreed not to issue any notices of default for a lack of rent payment under Nassau Live.

In 2015, Mastroianni’s company U.S. Immigration Fund oversaw a $100 million loan for the renovation of the Coliseum from 200 Chinese investors.  This was made possible through a federal program that provides people with visas in exchange for financing projects that create domestic job opportunities.  The immigration fund is not affiliated with the federal government.

“Our plans are to take control, further the development plans with RXR [Realty] and work with the county to reactivate the arena,” Mastroianni told Newsday. Efforts to reach Mastroianni for further comment were unavailing.

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