New York Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky has confirmed that the NHL ice hockey team is committed to building a new arena at the Belmont Park horse-racing facility.
The team submitted a bid to build a new home on the site last month and Ledecky said the arena is a primary focus for the Islanders.
Ledecky, together with fellow co-owner Scott Malkin, is part of the New York Arena Partners, LLC. group, which also includes Sterling Project Development and the Oak View Group. Sterling is controlled by the Wilpon family, owner of the New York Mets Major League Baseball team, while Oak View Group has played a part in the design and construction of various arenas across North America.
Ledecky said he estimates that a decision on the winning bid for the Belmont Park site, which is located in Elmont, Long Island, will be made within the next four to six months. Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC is also said to be interested in the site, although it is believed that the team has other options in the pipeline.
“We have not received any formal or informal communication about a timeline,” Ledecky said. “We obviously hope it will be sooner rather than later and we would hope that our proposal is the best proposal. We don’t know if they’ve seen three or 10 or five, but we certainly put a lot of time and resources and effort and the arena partnership group did in making a first-class presentation.
“We didn’t just throw a piece of paper across the room. We really were thoughtful. Obviously from a self-interested perspective, we think we’re the best and we want to send that message to the community, to the media, to our fans, to our constituents through all the different areas, the players, that we’re singularly focused on this and we’ve spent the resources. We want to win. We want Belmont to be our permanent home.”
The Islanders currently play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and Ledecky said the arena would continue to serve as the team’s home until the end of next season. The team moved to the Barclays Center in 2015, but is said to favour a move back to Long Island, where it spent more than 30 years playing at the Nassau Coliseum before relocating to Brooklyn.
Should the Islanders be successful in bidding for the Belmont Park site, it is unclear where the team would play in the interim after leaving the Barclays Center.
“We’re focused on getting that shovel in the ground and (moving) forward on Belmont,” Ledecky said. “We’re not concerned at all (about the interim). Our concern and our focus should be on Belmont. Off of that, everything else becomes clear. We either get Belmont or we don’t get Belmont. That’s exactly our focus – to get Belmont.
“Barclays is a wonderful place. Unfortunately at the time it was built, they decided not to configure it for hockey. Nassau Coliseum is a lovely spot, but the commissioner of the NHL (Gary Bettman) is on public record saying it’s not viable for an NHL team. You have to have a focus on a place that will be our home, which is Belmont Park.”
Ledecky said a new arena would take about 20 months to build.