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Nassau County demands $2 million from Coliseum’s operators

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Nassau County is demanding that Onexim Sports and Entertainment, the company that operates Nassau Coliseum, pay $2 million in overdue rent in 15 days or risk forfeiting its lease. 

The county  explained its action in a Notice of Default sent on July 7 to Onexim, which operates Nassau Coliseum under the Nassau Events Center. The letter came following Onexim’s decision last month to temporarily close the Coliseum while it waits for investors to take over operations and take on the remaining debt.

If Onexim fails to pay the $2 million in payments to the county within 15 days after the letter was sent, it would result in an “event of default” and mean that the county could terminate its lease.

The lease accounts for an additional 30 days in which the Nassau Events Center’s leasehold lender, Nassau Coliseum Funding 100, could “step into the tenant’s shoes” and satisfy the rent payments before the county could end the lease. However, in a loan agreement secured by the lease, the Nassau Events Center owes $100 million to Nassau Coliseum Funding 100 for renovations made to the Coliseum in 2015.

A statement about the county’s decision reads that it was made in “an effort to ensure a plan for sustained operations” at the Coliseum and the redevelopment of the 72 acres surrounding it, known as the Nassau Hub.

“We cannot drag our feet on a strategy for the future of this hallmark Nassau County arena nor risk the unprecedented progress we’ve made to transform the Hub site,” said County Executive Laura Curran. “We did not take today’s action lightly and believe it is the best way to bring all parties to the table.”

The county invited Onexim and its lender to discuss their plans for the future of the Coliseum and the Nassau Hub redevelopment, as written in a letter sent to both groups as well as the co-developer for the Nassau Hub, RXR Realty.

The county’s action also comes after the Nassau Events Center requested a rent forbearance agreement. In response, the county asked for a detailed plan describing how the Nassau Events Center plans to continue Coliseum operations and how rent forbearance would help with such a plan.

“I am committed to swiftly reviewing any proposals to get a plan for the building and the redevelopment back on track for the benefit of all our residents — including our devoted Islanders fans — who were looking forward to a final season at the Barn,” Curran said.

The temporary closure of the Coliseum leaves futures uncertain for the New York Islanders, which is set to play half of its games next season at the Coliseum and the other half at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.

“We are engaged in a productive conversation with all the stakeholders,” reads a statement from Onexim. “We have consistently initiated communications with the county and have been responsive to their communications. We are hopeful that we will soon be able to announce a resolution that will satisfy the needs of the community while taking into account the new realities that we are all facing in light of the pandemic.”