Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky is a down-to-Earth dude. Sure, he’s worth about $340 million bucks. But he rides the train to Islanders games at Barclays Center just like we do.
On his way to tonight’s 5-3 Alumni Night victory over the Sharks, Ledecky had a pretty eventful ride. He met with fans and even invited one family of longtime supporters to the game right then and there.
Riding the @LIRR to the game tonight with Jon Ledecky! #Isles pic.twitter.com/rdwWuS4xZU— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 21, 2017
Lot of Isles fans on train. Many recognized Ledecky and took pics with him. One woman, 82, was at the Isles first Stanley Cup title game.— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) October 21, 2017
She left LI 27 years ago. Was back to show her grandson and girlfriend where she lived. They were headed back to the city. Key word. Were— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) October 21, 2017
Met a fan on the who was there for the #Isles first Stanley Cup victory!— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 21, 2017
Jon invited her to her first game at @barclayscenter tonight. pic.twitter.com/HNJI523zoL
Sure as hell beats sitting in the middle seat and being sandwiched between two people who slept like logs from Penn Station to Freeport.
But Ledecky didn’t stop with the handshakes. He and Oak View Group exec Peter Luukko also gave some time to Newsday to reveal some details about the arena project the Islanders submitted to the RFP put out by the state for Belmont Park. The team had been pretty tight-lipped about exactly what they submitted (probably prudently; there’s no timetable for Empire State Development to make its final selection). But we at least now know where the proposed arena would sit on the property.
The arena would be located next to the existing, part-time LIRR station in what is now a parking lot outside the grandstand area of the racetrack, Ledecky said.
The new arena would host approximately 150 events per year, including Islanders games and entertainment such as concerts, family shows and college basketball games, according to Peter Luukko of Oak View Group, one of the Islanders’ partners in the development.
I’ve taken the liberty of creating a highly-detailed, virtual reality 3D mock-up of the plot in question.
That Long Island Railroad stop at Belmont Park (seen at the top of the picture) is a crucial part of the project. Many of the politicians and community folks mentioned it in their hopes for the final selection. It’s only used on race days and was renovated a couple of years ago, but Ledecky is ready to work with the LIRR to make it a vital access point for fans coming to games from New York City (like him).
“I think they will be a great partner for us moving forward,” Ledecky said of the LIRR if his group wins Belmont. “They’ll understand the need for the transportation and they’ll understand the demand in the community for the transportation as well.”
The article also contains a video in which Ledecky talks about the location and why a return to Nassau Coliseum isn’t an option (Surprise! It’s the revenue.)
Relax, tailgators: There will be 7,000 parking spots there, too. I’m assuming (although the story doesn’t say) that there will be additional parking lots available across Hempstead Turnpike. There might also be a hotel involved at some point, since the RFP looked to make the spot a “destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality.”
As cool as it is for him to tell us more about this, Ledecky needs to walk a fine line so long as the selection process remains on-going. That said, at his recent media luncheon, he sounded confident that he and his partner Scott Malkin have submitted a comprehensive proposal that checks off all the boxes that will make the state, the New York Racing Association, the people of surrounding Elmont and Islanders fans happy.
“As I talk to the fans on the train, I’m getting a lot of positive feedback from fans on getting to the games,” Ledecky said. “They just want to be closer.”
The team will play at Barclays Center for this season and next. After that, who knows? Hey, maybe now that’s she’s been there, Norma and her family will take in a few more games.
Jon Ledecky is a man of his word!— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) October 22, 2017
Norma, who Jon met on the @LIRR tonight, is enjoying her first #Isles game at Barclays Center! pic.twitter.com/1X656AhLtW