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OpinionColumnistsRandi F. Marshall

Marshall: Nassau Coliseum, Hub plans back in action

An announcement was made on une 16, 2020

An announcement was made on une 16, 2020 that the NYCB Live / Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum would be closed. Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

And… once again… Nassau Coliseum has a new tenant.

In an agreement Nassau County announced Thursday, the arena’s lender, Nick Mastroianni II, will become the arena’s new tenant. Mastroianni’s company, U.S. Immigration Fund, was responsible for coordinating the financing of the Coliseum’s 2015 renovations through the controversial EB-5 program, which brought in 200 Chinese investors who received visas and a path to green cards in exchange for their funds. 

Under the terms of the deal, the county will recover the $2.2 million in past rent that its previous tenant, Onexim Sports & Entertainment, had failed to pay since earlier this year. 

But the Mastroianni-Nassau deal isn’t only about the Coliseum itself. Besides possibly creating a path for the arena to reopen in time for the New York Islanders to play there next season, the pact puts RXR Realty and developer Scott Rechler in the driver’s seat when it comes to developing the land around the arena, known as the Nassau Hub.

Rechler, the chief executive of RXR, was part of the negotiation with the county, Onexim, and Mastroianni, who has formed a new entity called Nassau Live Center to serve as the Coliseum tenant. 

And Rechler told The Point Thursday that the “restructured deal leaves RXR in full control over the master development.”

“It gives us the ability to build on all of the community engagement we’ve done for this property,” Rechler said. “We’ll be able to execute [the project] in a manner that we believe will optimize the benefit to the community and achieve our vision of creating a sustainable live, work, play development.”

As for the arena, the deal continues the existing contracts with the New York Islanders and the Long Island Nets, so that if the Coliseum is allowed to reopen, the Nets and Islanders would be able to play there next season. 

Meanwhile, the negotiations continue. The county has agreed to a 60-day “standstill period” — with room for an additional 30-day extension, during which the county won’t issue any notices of default if Mastroianni doesn’t pay rent. During that period, Mastroianni is expected to develop a plan to operate the Coliseum, and a proposal for changes to the lease, including the possibility of adjustments to the annual payments made to the county.

Ultimately, any changes to the lease, and an updated development plan agreement between RXR and Mastroianni, will require approval from the county legislature. But that’s likely to come after the so-called standstill period is over.

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