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State Board Approves Belmont Park Arena Project

Islanders Arena Rendering

A state board approved a New York Islanders Belmont Park arena project Thursday, keeping the planned venue on track for a 2021 opening.

Under a plan that has been in the works for a few years, an estimated $1.26-billion development on state land at Belmont Park will be anchored by the new arena. The project is led by New York Arena Partners, which includes Islanders ownership, Sterling Project Development (controlled by New York Mets owners), and arena developer Oak View Group. The project’s current scope calls for a 19,000-capacity arena to be the centerpiece of surrounding development that includes a 250-room hotel, 350,000 square feet of retail space, and more.

On Thursday, the project moved forward, thanks to a unanimous vote of approval by the six-member board of state economic development agency Empire State Development (ESD). A separate board still needs to sign off on a related environmental review but, with that approval expected in the coming weeks, the ESD’s vote keeps the arena on track for a planned opening in time for the 2021-22 season. More from Newsday:

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, speaking toward the end of the meeting, became emotional when thanking fans and promised to be good neighbors to Elmont and Floral Park. Then he spoke directly to [ESD chairman Howard] Zemsky: “It’s been a two-year journey and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Ledecky said….

“I’ve been emotional,” Ledecky told Newsday after the vote. “It’s been a long journey and I think that the fans deserve a new home.” 

Last week, the state Public Authorities Control Board approved ESD’s acquisition of the Belmont property from the state Franchise Oversight Board, the agency that oversees the New York Racing Association and all activity at Belmont.

The Franchise Oversight Board still needs to approve the state’s environmental review before construction can begin. That approval is expected in a matter of weeks, paving the way for a groundbreaking ceremony.

To ease traffic congestion in the area, New York governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled plans last month for a new $105-million Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) station as part of the development. Arena developers will eventually pay $97 million of the $105-million price tag.

Rendering courtesy New York Arena Partners LLC.

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