Islanders owners want to share New York State property with the Belmont Racetrack
In about two weeks, New York State will begin the process of selecting a group to develop a number of acres around the Belmont Park racetrack which sits on the New York City/Nassau County border. The New York Islanders ownership, along with the National Hockey League with help from the New York Rangers/Knicks/Madison Square Garden group, has made no secret they want the land for an arena. It also looks as if the Major League Soccer’s New York club wants to build a stadium on the site. The state rejected a bid by the New York Cosmos ownership to build a soccer stadium on the site last year and reopened the requests for proposals process earlier this year.
New York State owns the property and has a few demands. The state wants the Belmont property to become “a premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island” with “uses that are complementary to the existing racetrack.” The Islanders franchise has always been about real estate. The National Hockey League team was part of an overall portfolio which would have seen 77 acres of land in Uniondale, New York, suburban Nassau County built as an arena-village complete with a sports facility, shopping, offices and housing. Howard Millstein failed in 1997 to get a new arena and Charles Wang failed in 2010. Wang moved his team to Brooklyn. He sold the team to Jonathan Ledecky and Scott Malkin three years ago but Wang only gave up control a year ago. The Belmont site has been dangled by New York State for years but nothing has materialized. The New York Islanders franchise has been tied to real estate starting with the granting of a team to Nassau County by the NHL to keep the upstart rival World Hockey Association out of the New York market in 1972. Nothing has changed. It’s all about real estate.
New York State wants more than a racetrack on the New York City/Nassau County border.