Islanders Ownership Should Know Soon If It Can Build An Arena

First approval can come today.

It appears that a decision on whether the New York Islanders ownership can build an arena on the Belmont Park Racetrack property is imminent. A New York State agency, Empire State Development, is finishing up an environmental impact study. Once that is released the ESD and two other state agencies have to approve the project. It is expected all three agencies will say yes and construction will begin sometime this summer. Some local residents were worried about a quality of life issue in that things will change if the arena, a hotel and retail space is built. Politicians were concerned that there would be too much traffic on the Cross Island Parkway, a roadway that is incredibly clogged at various times of the day. Some residents wanted expanded Long Island Railroad service including a full time stop at the site.

The project has New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s support. In July, 2017, New York State’s Empire State Development agency issued a Request For Proposals for the state owned land and the RFP seemed to be written to suit the Islanders’ owners’ needs for a hockey arena. Within five months, the Islanders ownership along with its partners, the New York Mets and Madison Square Garden ownership won the right to develop the property. Cuomo announced the winning bid and then suggested that the Islanders play some games at the renovated Nassau Coliseum as the state pressured the Islanders ownership and the owner of the Brooklyn arena and license holder of the Nassau Coliseum to make that happen until the Belmont arena is opened. That happened. New York State invested $6 million to make sure the Coliseum was fixed up for the team.  Cuomo wants the arena done as quickly as possible. After the Islanders arena construction starts, how to rebuild the Belmont racetrack becomes the next project.