The New York Islanders arena search has had a history with Belmont for a long time now and the story of the whole thing is getting more and more complicated by the day. Let’s take a look back on everything that has gotten us to where the Islanders are today.
On July 22nd, 2016 A.D., Islanders fans woke up to rumors that the Islanders were in talks to submit an RFP to move to Belmont. Now, this was a little confusing considering the Islanders have already been openly talking to the Mets about moving to an arena around them. Now, at this point, a lot of Belmont was rumors and speculation that could have been easily dismissed as nothing, a flash-in-the-pan idea that got quickly got shutdown.
But the good ol’ Islanders rumor mill wasn’t quite done yet. Bob McKenzie reported in the wee morning of April 12th of 2017 that, for the Islanders, “all signs point to Belmont.” That wasn’t it for the rumor mill though. Carton, of the radio show Carton and Boomer, very bluntly said that the “Islanders will eventually get an arena at Belmont.” It was all rumors at this point but, something felt different about this possible arena proposal, it felt like an opportunity for the Islanders to go home to the Island. But, no one truly knew (except maybe owner Jon Ledecky) how far this could go.
After many, many rumors Islanders fans truly just wanted some concrete facts about a new stadium. How far into the process are they with Belmont? Is going back to Nassau an option? Well, the Commissioner of the NHL, Gary Bettman delivered in late April of this year. While talking to the Associated Press he noted that “there is an RFP for Belmont and I know they [The Islanders] are going to participate in that.” This completely solidifies Belmont as a viable option for the Islanders, just as much as the Mets proposal, which Bettman also talked about with the Associated Press. He mentioned that “everyone thinks there is a terrific opportunity there [Belmont], if not at Willets Point.” This was Bettman leaving both options on the table. One option the Commissioner is taking off the table though, is the Islanders going back to Nassau saying that Nassau is “not a long-term option.”
More solidity came from Arthur Staple, the Islanders beat writer, who gave a more definitive answer on the return to Nassau, and it was a big no. In a Q&A He was quoted saying that “the Coliseum isn’t a go as far as the Islanders are concerned.” This narrowed down the stadium to three options; Belmont, a stadium in conjunction with the Mets, or the overall negative deal of staying at Barclays Center.
Belmont or Bust
Here’s where the story gets interesting. Now, the Islanders haven’t been the only group looking at Belmont at this point. Another group was the soccer team NYCFC. NYCFC’s history with Belmont is just as strange. On August 31th it was revealed that NYCFC was no longer looking at Belmont as a possible option for the club. This news was a huge relief for Islanders fans, who saw NYCFC as the biggest possible bidder for Belmont besides them. But, a little under a month later it was revealed that NYCFC will be bidding on a stadium at Belmont. This confusion has had many believe that NYCFC is an undesirable candidate.
As if to make themselves the opposite of NYCFC the Islanders announced the only possible arena option was Belmont. This comment made in October has been speculated to be a strategy to make themselves more desirable than NYCFC.
The Leaks Begin
The most fun part of any team getting a new stadium is seeing all the potential ideas for said stadium. Recently there have been a lot of leaks of some designs of the new stadium. Here are some of them (credit to Incarcerated Bob for the images):
Where We Are Today
Just recently, NYCFC and the Islanders attended a Redevelopment Plan Release where both groups talked about what their plans were for the arena. In the Islanders proposal, some interesting things noted were that the arena will have 18,000 seats, the parking lot will have 7,000 spots (which confirms that tailgating will be possible again), and that sightlines will be a priority. But, the arena was, of course, not the only thing talked about. Part of the construction will be improving the transportation around the area, creating a 200-250 room hotel, and a plaza with food and drink. It sounds like a great community center that will improve the area. Not only have these statistics come out of the hearing, but real designs have come out. Designs like this one, from Jim Baumbach on Twitter, came out during the meeting:
Here is what the Islanders, Sterling and Oak View Group envision for Belmont. pic.twitter.com/xY7l1gts3g
— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) December 11, 2017
Overall, it may seem like a lot has happened but, the whole process is far from done. Everyone will be watching and excitedly waiting for more news about the new arena.
After release, it has been reported that the Islanders have been approved by the state to build the arena in Belmont. Another step closer.
Islanders are coming home. Sources say their bid to build a new arena at Belmont has been selected by the state as the winner. Story on https://t.co/DRdvZ90vva soon.
— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) December 19, 2017