It’s official: The New York Islanders are skating back home.
After about five seasons at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center plagued with bad ice, obstructed views and diminishing ticket sales, the team that originally called Nassau Coliseum home joined Governor Andrew Cuomo to announce a $1 billion redevelopment plan at Belmont Park to include a brand-new hockey arena.
“The Islanders are back where they belong,” said Cuomo as he opened a press conference at Belmont Park on Dec. 20, where he was joined by team owner Jon Ledecky, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Long Island music legend Billy Joel and Islanders players John Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck. “When the Islanders left, they left a hole in the heart of Long Island. Today is a win-win-win for the community.”
The project will feature an 18,000-seat arena for the Islanders, a new 435,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex, a new hotel and other community amenities. Cuomo also announced that the Long Island Rail Road will develop a plan to expand service to the Belmont Park Station for events year-round, adding that he expects the arena project to create 12,300 construction jobs and 3,100 permanent jobs.
“With the state-of-the-art redevelopment of Belmont Park, we are adding a crown jewel to the economic resurgence on Long Island. The return of the Islanders is exciting for all fans, bringing the storied franchise back to its rightful home,” said Cuomo. “The creation of this world-class entertainment destination will bring visitors from near and far, as we continue to transform the region and strengthen our economic momentum on Long Island.”
As part of the Belmont Park arena deal, the Islanders will have a 49-year lease with renewal options, valued at $40 million for the full build-out. Local officials said the project would signal an economic boom for the Elmont community, with Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran pledging to do her part on that end.
“As county executive, I’ll make sure we work with the local community and stakeholders to make sure the area is developed with their input,” she said. “Economic development at Belmont will benefit all Nassau County taxpayers.”
Officials expect the project to be completed in 2020, but as for where the Islanders will play during the construction process, Cuomo said that is entirely up to Bettman, who has gone on record as saying the Coliseum is “not a viable option” for the team.
But as for the arena project, Bettman said, “If you are an Islanders fan or an Islanders player, you have a lot to be excited about.”
While returning to the Coliseum for a short stay remains open for debate, team captain John Tavares echoed the sentiments of many fans in attendance who will gladly welcome the team back to the island of its origin.
“The Islanders are called the Islanders for a reason,” he said. “This is really where the team belongs.”
Belmont Arena At A Glance
Along with an NHL-ready arena that will serve as the permanent home of the New York Islanders, the Belmont mixed-use facility will host other major events, including concerts, college sports, conferences, family events and programming year-round.
The project will also encompass:
Retail, Recreation and Dining
The redevelopment will include 435,000-square-feet of retail, recreation and hospitality space. The retail village will be composed of pedestrian boulevards and squares, lined with stores and boutiques occupied by international, regional and local brands. Dining and entertainment will range from sports bars to fine dining and prepared foods for take-away and will be enhanced by leisure and athletic activities, such as a boutique movie theatre and intimate live performance venues.
Community Recreation Area and Innovation Space
The project includes nearly six acres of outdoor recreation space and up to 10,000-square-feet of community space to be developed in consultation with the local community. The development will integrate the recreation area into the Elmont neighborhood, as well as create a green corridor and bike path buffering the residential areas adjacent to the development.
The new 200-250 key, full-service hotel at Belmont Park will feature amenities, retail and dining options as well as conference and meeting spaces.
Gateway to Long Island
The complex will feature new signage, public art and landscape elements designed to foster a sense of identity and arrival with access points to the Belmont Long Island Rail Road platforms. The LIRR will develop a plan to modify service to accommodate New Yorkers for sporting and special events.
Additional parking will be developed to accommodate the increased traffic volume, including dedicated retail, hotel and arena parking located below the concourse level, as well as areas for ride-sharing, taxis and private shuttles. The pick-up and drop-off zones will be configured to maximize loading capacity and minimize queues without burdening local neighborhoods with additional traffic.