The company that will operate the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park has expressed interest to Nassau County officials in potentially running NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The arena development company Oak View Group is willing to run the Coliseum either on a short-term or long-term basis in an effort to help Nassau as it determines the future of the 14,500-seat, county-owned arena, sources said.
Oak View Group, which operates nearly two dozen arenas nationwide, has partnered with the Islanders and Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon on the $1.3 billion sports-and-entertainment project at Belmont. Their interest in the Coliseum also is spurred by a desire to keep the Islanders on Long Island for one more season before their Belmont arena is scheduled to open in 2021.
A county spokesperson declined to confirm whether there has been interest from Oak View Group, but said the company “would certainly bring substantial benefits to Coliseum operations.”
A spokesman for New York Arena Partners, the Islanders’ Belmont partnership that includes Oak View Group, declined to comment.
The Coliseum is closed indefinitely after Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov announced last month his company, Onexim Sports & Entertainment, is seeking investors to take over the arena lease and assume the remaining $100 million in debt.
Nassau officials sent Onexim a notice of default Tuesday that threatens to terminate its Coliseum lease if more than $2 million in unpaid rent and utilities isn’t paid in two weeks. The notice of default, the county said, also is a mechanism to bring Onexim and its lender — Nick Mastroianni II of Jupiter, Florida-based Allied Capital & Development — to the negotiating table.
Several significant obstacles remain in the way of Oak View Group’s interest in the Coliseum, the sources said, beginning with the $100 million debt that remains after Onexim’s $180-million renovation of the Coliseum. Oak View Group is not interested in taking on such debt, the sources said.
It’s also not clear whether the county would require a new request for proposals or what the impact would be on the makeup of the Nassau Hub development team. Onexim, as the Coliseum leaseholder, is partners with RXR Realty on the development plans there.
In a statement Wednesday, Onexim said, “We are hopeful that we will soon be able to announce a resolution that will satisfy the needs of the community while taking into account the new realities that we are all facing in light of the pandemic.”