The New York Islanders are heading back to Long Island but this time, they’ll be playing at Belmont instead of at the old Coliseum. Governor Cuomo made the announcement on Wednesday at the Islanders press conference.
The Islanders won a bidding contest to build an 18,000-seat arena on the Belmont race track, construction will begin in 2018 and has an end goal for the year 2020. The new arena will also include a 435,000-square-foot area for stores, restaurants and a movie theater, a new hotel and 6-acres of outdoor space, 10,000 square feet of it being dedicated to community space. The development group New York Arena Partners will be spending $1 billion to build everything.
The Islanders were up against New York City Football Club from the MLS when bidding on the Belmont land. In their bid, NYCFC proposed a 26,000-seat open-air stadium, 400,000 square feet of retail space, a 5.2-acre community park and a 2-acre soccer facility. NYCFC congratulated the Islanders on winning the bid later in the day on Wednesday and stated that they would continue looking for a soccer-specific stadium.
“The Islanders are back where they belong. It feels right.” Governor Cuomo stated during the press conference announcing the new arena. He went on to say that the project will be an economic engine for the area and create 12,300 construction jobs as well as 3,100 permanent jobs once finished. Cuomo also asked Commissioner Gary Bettman whether the Islanders could play a few games at the newly renovated Coliseum while construction at Belmont is being done. Bettman replied by saying the Coliseum was not suitable for the Islanders on a permanent basis, but they would be reviewing it on whether it could host interim games.
With the Islanders heading back to Long Island, fans can finally be happy as the move to Brooklyn two years ago was never one that went over well with fans. Their attendance numbers at Barclays dropped to the lowest in NHL history, a bad omen for any sports team to moves to a new arena, and many wondered what they would do. The move to Long Island could be what saves the Islanders and their attendance numbers.