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What’s next for Long Island Nets now that Nassau Coliseum is shutting down?

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The Long Island Nets likely won’t be playing again for a while, probably December or even after that. The NBA shut down the G League officially two weeks ago without indicating when things will start up again. Unlike the NBA and WNBA, the G League is on hiatus. And now, its venue is going to shut down as well.

Mikhail Prokhorov has finally decided to pull the plug on Nassau Coliseum, shuttering the money pit in Uniondale and looking for a buyer...

According to Bloomberg News...

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Sports and Entertainment, which operates the arena under a lease from Nassau County, is planning to shutter the venue indefinitely while it seeks investors to take over operations and pick up the remaining debt on the building, according to people familiar with the matter.

ONEXIM has told potential investors that it would turn over the lease in return for assuming roughly $100 million in loans on the property.

The venue has reportedly been losing money since its $180 million rehabilitation —and downsizing— that took it off line between 2015 and 2017. The arena has annually hosted roughly 200 events a year, including concerts, the G League and professional lacrosse as well as the Islanders in a sharing agreement with Barclays Center.

The arena was supposed to host all of the Islanders games in the 2020-21 season, but now after the COVID-19 pandemic, those plans are in tatters as the NHL struggles to get back on the ice. If the NHL resumes at local arenas in 2020-21, it appears that the Islanders will be back at Barclays for a final season, then will move to their new home in Belmont. That arena will also compete with the nearly 50-year-old Coliseum for other events.

Prokhorov’s holding company, ONEXIM, issued this statement...

“The unforeseeable and unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has had a devastating effect on the operations of the Coliseum and its finances, While we still believe in the enormous long term economic value of the Coliseum and the development of the surrounding land, we recognize that such value will be best realized by other parties.”

ONEXIM holds a 49-year lease on the Coliseum and holds the rights to develop the surrounding 77 acres which is now also in flux.

Prokhorov’s purchase of the lease on the Coliseum —Nassau County owns the site— was part of a planned strategy to acquire sports and entertainment venues first in New York, then around the U.S. and possibly overseas. But the centerpiece of that plan, Barclays Center, was sold as part of the $3.4 billion transaction that left Joe Tsai as owner of the arena as well as the Brooklyn and Long Island Nets. Tsai reportedly had no interest in adding the Coliseum to that package.

So, whither the Long Island Nets? They’ve played in Uniondale for the past three years after a season at Barclays Center where they played without fans. There’s no immediate word on how the shutdown —and ultimately new ownership— would affect their status.

They could, presumably, stay in Uniondale depending on the terms of their lease, return to Brooklyn, or find a new venue. In the 2019 playoffs, Nassau had a conflict of interest and instead of playing the G League Finals at the Coliseum, Long Island had to play at the Island Federal Arena on the Stony Brook University campus.

One interesting datapoint on the Coliseum’s fate from Norman Oder of the Atlantic Yards Report. He believes reports that $90 million in debt is owed to EB-5 investors, who offered low-interest loans in exchange for green cards during the renovation.

“Note that there’s often a five-year term before repayment is required, and no announcement of such repayment has been announced,” Oder wrote.