Off To The Races At Belmont’s Development

Islanders ownership wants an arena at Belmont


The horses are being brought to the starting gate at Belmont racetrack in Elmont, New York. But in this case, it is developers, not horses, who want a chance at helping to develop some property around the track. The New York Islanders ownership would like to build an arena on the land near the New York City-Nassau County line. The Islanders ownership group will be filing a request for a proposal at the Belmont site. There figures to be others. 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. New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan along with sports and music industry heavyweights are partnering with Islanders ownership at the Belmont site. The Belmont site has been dangled by New York State for years but nothing has materialized. The entire 45-year history of 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. It’s all about real estate, not sports.


New York State wants to redevelop the Belmont racetrack site.