Hey, remember that story about the Islanders talking to the owners of the Mets about possibly building an arena at Willets Point in Queens? The one that broke a little more than 24 hours ago? I posted a huge thing about it today.
Well, a new contender has entered the field with Newsday reporting that Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin have also talked with the New York Racing Association about building an arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, back in Nassau County.
No, I'm not kidding. Per Newsday's Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach:
The New York Islanders are in discussions with state officials about building a new hockey arena at Belmont Park in Elmont, a move that would bring the team back to Nassau after they left to play in Brooklyn last year, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
The sources confirmed that the team's new owners have met several times in recent months with officials of the New York Racing Association, which runs Belmont, to discuss a possible new arena.
"NYRA is courting the Islanders," said one source briefed on the talks. "This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the Islanders back home."
Before you shoot down Hempstead Turnpike like Secretariat, pull back on the reins a little. The story also says that Ledecky and Malkin are, "weighing multiple options, including remaining in Brooklyn," which lends more creedance to the idea that both the Willets Point and now Belmont news are more about leveraging Barclays Center into making changes to its agreement with the team rather than actually about a move.
The Empire State Development Corporation is still accepting bids on a 28-acre parking lot just south of the venerable Triple Crown horse track. One suitor are the New York Cosmos, who want to put a $400 million soccer stadium there. But, like most people who visit Belmont, the state has yet to pick a winner. The article also says that Long Island Railroad access is available nearby.
Any project would need approval from the state, rather than the city who controls Willets Point or from Nassau County/the Town of Hempstead who are renovating Nassau Coliseum after rejecting previous owner's Charles Wang's Lighthouse Project.
Belmont, like Willets and the Nassau Hub are all windmills that have been tilted at before by others that have owned the franchise and wanted to maximize its value. Ledecky and Malkin are about to learn how difficult it is to get an arena built when you're the seventh most popular team in an already crowded market and every big fish in your small pond starts coming at you with his or her hand out.
[Insert stuff here from yesterday about Ledecky calling Brooklyn the team's "home," but also smartly exploring options to make his team the "world class" destination that he and Malkin paid $485 million for.]
Look, it's late, it's Friday, I've barely processed all of the Willets Point stuff and I have Pokemon to catch. I'm just gonna leave this here are parse it out later.
One thing I can be sure of: my preference remains the same. I want the Islanders playing where the money is. If a new arena in Queens or Belmont generates revenue for them, then build it. If taking Barclays Center's $50 million a year is the best deal, then make the changes and stay.
Just please make the ride stop somewhere.