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Officials: Nassau Coliseum to close temporarily due to pandemic loses

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Nassau Coliseum will temporarily close due to financial loses sustained during the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials. Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the arena through its subsidiary Nassau Events Center, will keep the Coliseum closed while it searches for a new party to take control of the property.

According to a statement provided by Onexim, the Coliseum saw a “devastating effect” from the loss of revenue usually acquired from New York Islanders hockey games, in addition to canceling all planned concerts and events. During the shutdown, Onexim, owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, paid Coliseum employees their full salaries, reimbursed its guests for tickets to events that were canceled and made restitution to those who booked events.

“With the coronavirus, the whole world has changed, so it’s not surprising,” said Frank Borrelli, owner of Borrelli’s Italian Restaurant, which sits just east of the Coliseum on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow. Borrelli’s has long relied on drawing a crowd of diners from Coliseum events.

“I’m trying to take it one day at a time and think positively,” he said, adding that the restaurant survived a Coliseum closure before when the arena was under construction in 2016. 

“While we still believe in the enormous long-term economic value of the Coliseum and the development of the surrounding land, NEC recognizes that such value will be best realized by other parties,” the statement from Onexim read. “We cannot predict or control the actions of other interested stakeholders. However, we remain confident that the Coliseum and the proposed development project represent valuable investment opportunities."

All Coliseum employees will be laid off, and according to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Onexim is speaking with its lenders and potential investors to pay off its remaining debt. However, she added, the news will not stop plans to redevelop the 72 acres surrounding the Coliseum, known as the Nassau Hub.

“We remain focused on development plans with RXR Realty, a strong and committed partner on this project,” she said. “Transforming the Hub site, important before the pandemic, is now even more critical to Nassau’s economic comeback.  We have momentum, and the collaboration of community stakeholders, elected leaders, business and labor, to ensure our success.”