The Islanders Arena Journey Is Almost At An End

Heading down the home stretch.

The nearly three-decade long New York Islanders ownership trek to find a new arena for the National Hockey League team appears to be in its final lap. The Islanders arena and an arena-village complete with a hotel and retail space will be built on Belmont Racetrack property and construction could start within the month pending governmental approvals. Comments to New York’s Empire State Development agency are nearly over. That board has already approved an environment impact report. If that group says yes after going through final comments, then it is onto two other boards for approval. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, brokered the arena deal. In the mid-1990s Nassau County Republicans came up with the idea of marrying the Islanders ownership to a Coliseum redevelopment plan. New York City real estate developer Howard Milstein and Steven Gluckstern bought the Islanders in 1998 with the thought of building a new arena as part of a plan to develop acres of parking lot and other land. Milstein and Nassau County Executive Thomas Gulotta reached an understanding to build a new arena and develop the area in 1998, but that deal was gone by January 1999 because the two parties could not agree on who should do the arena construction. Milstein sold the team to Charles Wang in 2000. Wang inherited a horrible lease that limited his revenues and looked into another Coliseum redevelopment plan.

Wang attempted to build an arena-village on the 77 acres of Nassau Coliseum property but was derailed by the Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray and lost in 2011 a referendum for a new arena. In 2012, Wang signed a 25-year iron-clad deal to move the franchise to Brooklyn. Wang sold the team to real estate developer Scott Malkin and Jonathan Ledecky in 2014. Malkin worked with Cuomo and is on the verge of getting an arena.

The arena in Brooklyn hosts some Islanders games.