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Coliseum will host more concerts in '21, but recovery may lag, study says

A study said because larger venues are already

A study said because larger venues are already booked, the Coliseum will see a short-term boon when venues reopen.   Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The Coliseum would likely see an increased number of concerts next year because larger venues are fully booked with concerts rescheduled due to the pandemic, according to a report obtained by Newsday.

When the concert season resumes in late 2021 or early 2022, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum would host live music events that cannot be accommodated by Madison Square Garden, which is fully booked, states the economic analysis report. Many live entertainment and sports venues have been shut down since March to slow the coronavirus’ spread.

The surge of concert activity would create "a short-term positive" for the Coliseum’s finances. But "the potential spillover bookings due to the other area arenas being unavailable will not likely provide a permanent boost" for the Uniondale facility, said the report’s authors, Camoin Associates and RMG SportsVentures, both consulting firms.

The consultants were hired last month by the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency to examine the economic potential for the county-owned Coliseum after the pandemic. The 13-page report is the first of potentially four that together would cost up to $68,000.

The consultants, after interviewing experts in the live music industry and professional hockey, said the Coliseum’s recovery would be months longer than that of MSG and other venues, in part because of its smaller size and the Islanders moving to Belmont Park Arena in Elmont in late 2021.

The consultants concluded, "the Coliseum’s present capacity makes it a second-tier location for music concert tours, which would impact its prospects for a quick post-pandemic recovery." Family events, which are an important component of the Coliseum’s schedule, would return more slowly than concert tours, they said.

In terms of the Islanders, the consultants said it was uncertain when fans would be permitted to attend games, which is critical to the finances of the team and the Coliseum.

Islanders spokesman Kimber Auerbach said on Wednesday, "As of now, there will be no fans."

National Hockey League spokesman John Dellapina added, "We obviously want our fans back at our games as soon as it is deemed safe and prudent by the relevant authorities."

IDA chairman Richard Kessel said the report "clearly indicates that next year is going to be very challenging" for the Coliseum "because the restart is going to be later than people had hoped. … [However], the report also clearly shows the Coliseum has a future," he said on Wednesday.

The report was commissioned in response to concerns by some IDA board members that the Coliseum would not be economically viable once Belmont Park Arena opens. In August, a divided IDA board approved the transfer of tax breaks to the new lease holder, Nick Mastroianni II of U.S. Immigration Fund in Jupiter, Florida, from Mikhail Prokhorov of Onexim Sports and Entertainment in Manhattan.

Mastronianni said on Thursday, "Its unclear how live performances will restart again" because pandemics are rare. "I can say that there is pent-up demand for a return to normalcy, which includes live events, shows, etc. I would say that Nassau may be better positioned for regional and national shows," he said.

The Coliseum generates about $4 million in rental income to Nassau per year.

County Executive Laura Curran said she wants "to see the Coliseum operational as soon as possible" ... and is "optimistic about the future of this iconic property as part of a revitalized Hub — a critically important economic driver for Nassau’s future."

With Colin Stephenson and Candice Ferrette

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