In yet another move aimed at showing his commitment to the Nets and New York, Mikhail Prokhorov has agreed to buy control of the revamped Nassau Coliseum from Bruce Ratner, his partner in both the Nets and Barclays Center. The arena will, as NetsDaily has previously reported, be the home of the Nets planned but yet unnamed D-League team.
"By including the Coliseum in our portfolio, we can apply our experience in construction and management of Barclays Center in order to bring first-class entertainment and sporting events to the New York area," Prokhorov said in a statement.
"We are excited to finalize the partnership the will bring Long Island the re-imagined entertainment venue it deserves," said Ratner in a statement.
Long Island Business News first reported the deal on Friday afternoon. NetsDaily confirmed the report. Prokhorov's ONEXIM Sports & Entertainment is likely to ultimately buy all of the the Coliseum --technically, the arena lease with the county. Nassau Events Center, the entity Prokhorov bought into, controls the 25-year lease with the county. The lease requires NEC to spend $260.5 million to redevelop and downsize the arena, and construct an adjacent complex with a movie theater, restaurants and stores. Those plans remain unchanged.
The Nets are committed already to playing one preseason game at the arena once its renovation is complete. And although the team has said nothing more than it expects to "launch" a D-League team in the area in 2016-17, NetsDaily has reported the Coliseum will likely be the home for the yet unnamed D-League team. The arena is set to reopen in December 2016 with a smaller capacity but more amenities. Through the use of "curtaining technology," the arena would create what one insider called a "basketball hall" configuration, sitting 4,000 to 8,000 for D-League games.
ONEXIM and Ratner's Forest City Enterprises are working as well on a consolidation of ownership in both the Nets and Barclays Center. Under that plan, ONEXIM would own 100 percent of both. No final agreement has been reached on those plans. FCE wants to change its status from a publicly traded company to a real estate investment trust by year's end and needs to dump operations that don't fit into its core business.
In addition to the Nets, Barclays Center, Nassau Coliseum, the HSS Training Center and the D-League team, ONEXIM is likely to take over the lease at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater, which will be renovated in cooperation with LIU. The university owns the theater.
Brett Yormark, in his capacity as CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, will run all the sports and entertainment properties for Prokhorov.
In a sports marketing seminar earlier this month in London Yormark hinted that the organization will be expanding its business model even further.
"In the recent decisions we've made, they have been driven by real estate, getting into the real estate market in Long Island, furthering our footprint in Brooklyn and you'll hear in the coming weeks, our first foray into Manhattan. Those decisions have all been driven, based on that we want to grow our venue business, create some scale in and around New York and what's driving that is really the real estate values."
Yormark also said that Nassau Events Center has found a "strategic" naming rights partner for the Coliseum and surrounding properties, the Long Island Sports and Entertainment Village. Expect that announcement within a week.
According to previous reports, the Islanders could play up to six NHL games, preseason and regular season combined, at the revamped Coliseum. NEC is also committed to bringing a minor league (AHL) hockey team to the Coliseum. The most prevalent rumor is that the Bridgeport Soundtigers, the Islanders' AHL affiliate, could move to Uniondale.
Meanwhile in Moscow, Prokhorov's Russian real estate firm, OPIN, is planning a renovation of Eduard Streltsov Stadium in the capital. Like Barclays, like Nassau, Streltsov is surrounded by real estate that could be put to commercial or residential use. Although ONEXIM Sports & Entertainment is owned by the Russian oligarch, it is not subsidiary of his Moscow-based ONEXIM. Instead, it is a US company based in New York.
Ceremonial ground breaking for the Coliseum renovation is expected to take place next Thursday. It would be surprising to see a number of announcements regarding the Coliseum between now and then.