The last time the public had a say in building a new arena for the Islanders, it didn’t quite work out so well.
But the franchise will try again, this time with a hearing at Elmont Public Library on July 10, when residents will have a chance to chime in on the upcoming redevelopment project at Belmont Park—and whether or not that project should include a new home for the wayward hockey club.
No matter what the NIMBYs come out and say, the state will release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the site soon after the meeting, and Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin will submit their bid, which will include plans for a new arena.
When Charles Wang brought his referendum for a publicly funded arena to residents in the summer of 2011, it was roundly rejected by residents, with 56 percent of voters opting to rebuff the plans for a new arena in Nassau. So the Islanders skated away to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, with fans who followed treated to bad sight lines and crummy transportation options.
The relationship between arena and team has since turned cold and the Islanders will have the opportunity to opt out of their lease agreement in January. With nowhere else to play—and with a return to Nassau Coliseum out of the question, save for one preseason game—the Islanders set their sights on Belmont.
An arena deal for the Islanders at Belmont should be as easy as an empty net goal from the crease. Belmont is crumbling and could use the excitement and revenue generated from a new arena. And the Islanders, well, it is high-time that team had a new home—built for hockey—of its own.
So head out to Elmont on July 10 and make your voices heard. Meanwhile, I’ll spend my time hoping that a new Islanders arena deal doesn’t come down to another public vote.