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New talks in Nassau about control of Coliseum lease

Photo of the NYCB Live / Nassau Veterans

Photo of the NYCB Live / Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on the afternoon of June 16, 2020. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

The shuttered operator of NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum is in talks to hand over control of the arena lease to its lender, possibly paving the way for the county-owned building to someday reopen under new management.

Nassau Executive Laura Curran said Tuesday that negotiations between the county, Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports & Entertainment and Prokhorov’s lender would allow Onexim “to exit from Coliseum operations and the Nassau Hub redevelopment.”

Onexim, the Coliseum operator since the Uniondale arena’s $180 million renovation in 2017, also has contractually obligated partnership rights with Scott Rechler’s RXR Realty on the long-discussed proposed development in the Nassau Hub.

Curran’s announcement of “active discussions” between all parties, including Rechler, comes a week after the county sent a notice of default to Onexim over more than $2 million in unpaid rent and utilities. A spokeswoman for Prokhorov said last month Onexim was seeking investors to take over the arena lease and assume the remaining $100 million in debt.

Nassau officials said the notice of default, which threatened to terminate the lease if the unpaid sum wasn’t paid in 15 days, also was sent to bring Onexim and its lender to the negotiating table with county officials to discuss a path forward.

Curran, in her late-afternoon statement Tuesday, called the negotiations to remove Prokhorov’s company from the Coliseum equation “progress on a plan for the future of the Coliseum and the development of the Nassau Hub site.”

Rechler described the negotiations as “constructive.”

Central to the negotiations of the future of the Coliseum and the HUB development is the role of the lender, a Jupiter, Florida-based company called U.S. Immigration Fund headed by Nick Mastroianni II.

Curran’s statement said only that Mastroianni’s company would “step into the shoes of” Prokhorov’s Onexim, allowing the current Coliseum operating company to walk away from the lease to run the Coliseum.

Neither Mastroianni nor representatives of U.S. Immigration Fund returned messages seeking comment.

Mastroianni’s company, which is not directly affiliated with the federal government, orchestrated a $100 million loan for the Coliseum renovation from 200 Chinese investors through a federal program that provides visas in exchange for financing job-creating projects.

This financing setup was coordinated by developer Bruce Ratner, who won the county’s 2013 request for proposals to redevelop the Coliseum and sold the lease to Prokhorov in 2015.

The loan, technically provided by a company created by Mastroianni under the name Nassau Coliseum Funding 100 LLC, was secured by a leasehold mortgage on what is now Onexim’s interest under the lease, Newsday reported in 2015.

Prokhorov’s Onexim declined to comment on Tuesday about the negotiations to hand over control of the lease to its lender, a spokesman said.

Curran portrayed news of the negotiations between Onexim and Mastroianni as a sign the Coliseum would be open in time to host the Islanders’s final season before moving into their new arena at Belmont Park.

“As a result of these discussions, the parties are on a path to bring the New York Islanders back to the Coliseum for the 2020-21 season,” she said.

For that to happen, the Coliseum is still in need of a company to operate the building. Sources have told Newsday that the arena development company Oak View Group — which will partly own and operate the Islanders’ Belmont arena — has expressed interest to the county about potentially running the Coliseum as well.

A county representative declined to confirm discussions with Oak View Group, but said the company “would certainly bring substantial benefits to Coliseum operations.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of the loan for the Coliseum renovation and the number of investors who were involved.

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