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So, how well is the Nassau Coliseum doing? You can't quite tell from the numbers.

So, how well is the Nassau Coliseum doing? By one metric, pretty well. But it's quite murky, and there's reason for doubt.

On 12/28/18, Newsday published Nassau Coliseum is America's top arena of its size, according to Billboard:
NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum is America’s top arena of its size and one of the Top 10 in the world for 2018, according to Billboard’s year-end issue.
The Uniondale arena, which reopened in 2017 following a $165 million renovation, produced 158 [non-sports] events that drew 462,153 attendees and grossed $29.3 million in 2018, according to the magazine, landing it at No. 8 in the world for venues with capacities between 10,001 and 15,000. 
Though Brett Yormark, CEO of arena operator BSE Global told Newsday "we have been thrilled with the success of NYCB Live and the Long Island community’s response to the events,” the arena does not disclose its net income, I was told in response to a query. That is typical for many arenas that do not have to report information to bondholders (as with Barclays).

So it's unclear how profitable it is. Keep in mind that a high gross income for the Barclays Center has obscured periodic financial struggles. That leaves lingering questions about the looming competition from the planned Belmont arena.

(The first of three days of public hearings on the Belmont Draft Environmental Impact Statement began last night, with the main concerns, apparently, traffic impact.)

The Coliseum's 12-month gross over a slightly earlier period, as of a 10/2/18 Billboard article, was $30.9 million, a little higher, by the way.

Other numbers

Also, 462,153 attendees at 158 events means an average attendance of 2,925--hardly a huge number. No wonder Yormark said "we have been able to dynamically program the venue by utilizing various configurations of the arena bowl, Exhibition Hall, and exterior space." The latter two are far smaller spaces.

Note that the 158 events are non-sports events, so that doesn't count Long Island Nets games, indoor tennis, New York Islanders games, or other sporting events. The Nets have drawn small crowds, 2,000 to 2,500 according to Newsday, which is less than the average attendance below that of non-sports events. Tennis drew 2,000 to 2,100 people, according to NY Sports Day. The Islanders have typically come close to selling out the 13,917 capacity, according to Newsday.

So what's the Coliseum's total gross, or number of events, or attendance? BSE Global spokeswoman Mandy Gutmann said they can't provide any information beyond what was shared with Billboard.

Paying Nassau County

Newsday reported in September 2017 that Nassau Events Center (NEC), the BSE Global subsidiary, had paid a total of $1.43 million in monthly rent to the county since the building reopened in April. The county is supposed to get at least $4 million in annual rent, or 8% of revenue from tickets and concessions, plus 12.75% from parking, whichever is higher.

NEC, Newsday noted, had "been able to cut its rent payments by deducting the $1.50-per-ticket 'entertainment tax' paid by patrons on every ticket at the arena," since Nassau County. The county, by law, keeps the tax revenue.

So, what are the updated figures?

In Fiscal Year 17-18 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018), NEC paid Nassau County $4.6 million in total rent (inclusive of rent, entertainment tax, and the Islanders Enhanced Minimum Rent), Gutmann said. That included $600,000 of the planned $1 million annual penalty for not playing an originally promised six games a year at the Coliseum. (Here's the contract.)

That Enhanced Minimum Rent was no longer applicable (as of February 2018), as the Islanders committed to playing games at the Coliseum for three years, during the expected time of construction of the new Belmont arena, and Nassau County changed the contract.

If $600,000 was the Islanders penalty, that means that the Coliseum paid only the $4 million minimum. So, going forward, they might pay just $4 million to the County or, if the part-time return of the Islanders has truly boosted revenue, perhaps more.

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