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Proposed Islanders Arena Construction Will Not Begin in May

New York Islanders Belmont Park Arena Rendering

Construction on a proposed New York Islanders arena at Belmont Park will not begin in May, as it will take longer than originally expected to complete an environmental impact statement. 

The Islanders were hoping to begin construction in May on a new arena at Belmont Park, with plans to open the facility in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. Along with the arena, the project–which will be led by the Islanders and partners Oak View Group and Sterling Project Development–calls for several surrounding amenities, including retail, lodging, dining options, and a movie theater.

Empire State Development had hoped to complete a final environmental impact statement on the project as early as April, but is now pushing that target date back to June as it sorts through a high volume of public comments. Officials are hopeful that it can be delivered in that time frame, but the change means that arena construction would not begin until at least the summer. More from Long Island Business News:

Officials from Empire State Development said they are still hopeful that they can issue the final environmental impact statement on the project by the end of June, however, even if they keep to that timeline, no construction could begin until sometime in the summer at the earliest.

ESD will also ask the arena developers to contribute an additional $1.2 million to pay for an extended environmental review of the project. The ESD board voted Thursday to extend the contract of the environmental review firm AKRF for one year, through Sept. 2020….

Rachel Shatz, ESD’s vice president of planning and environmental review, said Thursday that an enormous amount of comments have already been received on the arena plan, which has made the task of putting together the final environmental impact statement that much more difficult.

“I think this process has had quite an additional amount of public outreach than our typical ones, so I think this one probably could set a record for the number of comments that we’ve received, but that is the process working,” Shatz said, according to a transcript of the meeting provided by ESD.

The delay to the start of the arena’s construction process does not necessarily mean that a 2021 opening in no longer achievable, but how the process plays out going forward remains to be seen. In the interim, the Islanders will have to count on starting construction at least somewhat later than they originally hoped.

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