A pet peeve some people have is using the phrase, “quarter pole” to indicate being one fourth of the way into something, i.e. “at 20 games, the Islanders have reached the quarter pole of their season.” The “quarter pole” is actually the final quarter of a horse race, or the final two furlongs before the finish line.
Why the pedantic intro? Because it feels like we might be reaching the for real quarter pole of the Islanders’ quest to get permission to build an arena at Belmont Park.
In an afternoon flurry of news, one bidder has dropped out of the race, and a meeting this week could reveal the plans of the final two competitors and give local residents a chance to say their piece.
Suffolk County developer Ed Blumenfield officially pulled his bid for the Belmont property today, issuing a statement meant to indicate that he is in no way mad online and actually finds this whole thing funny.
A third bidder, Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group, announced Monday that it was withdrawing its bid, citing the state’s “extraordinary requirements” that “appear to create a selection process that has been predetermined.”
Blumenfield also said that “unusual and rather aggressive” financial concerns related to the property have caused his company to pull out.
So who does that leave? Just two bidders: MLS team NYCFC and your New York Islanders.
Side Note: I’m a little surprised that this property, which is pretty big and right next to an important place on its own, didn’t attract more bidders. Then again, the request for proposals did specifically ask for ideas that would make Belmont a, “premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island.” That doesn’t leave a whole lot of options. Maybe that’s what big shot Ed Blumenfield was so hot about.
For months now, Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky has been telling anyone who will listen - man, woman or child from up and down the Eastern Seaboard - that he and partner Scott Malkin have, “blinders on for Belmont” and that “there is no Plan B.” NYCFC on the other hand, seems kinda non-committal on the whole thing, telling Newsday today that, “We are actively pursuing a number of possible stadium sites and Belmont is one of them.” Wow, don’t slide tackle us all at once, guys.
This is very important. Also - just from my mentions today - it's clear there's a difference in the fan base reaction. #isles fans want it BADLY, NYCFC fans seem to want the Islanders to win. https://t.co/ARgDVaTBOq— Randi Marshall (@randimarshall) December 4, 2017
Another thing Ledecky keeps mentioning is the Islanders readiness to begin construction on the site immediately, with an estimate of 20 months before the arena is completed. As Brian at Point Blank put it, that could only be another arrow pointing in the hockey team’s direction.
Award the site to the Isles and shovels go in the ground right away, with an eye toward getting the arena open in 2-3 years. Award it to NYCFC, and who knows. Maybe they'll find a better spot within the city limits and leave ESD holding the bag.
This coming Sunday, the two factions will be present at a community meeting at Elmont Memorial High School, where each will have 15 minutes to make a presentation to residents and local politicians about what they plan to build. We might see some photos or plans, but don’t expect an open mic free-for-all like the last one, though. Submitted questions only, to be read by a moderator.
Expect renderings - but also expect vetting of questions, as there will be some info bidders can't share (financial, proprietary etc.) keep in mind competition is still ongoing.— Randi Marshall (@randimarshall) December 4, 2017
Marshall has more details here on the meeting. If you attend, be nice.
That’s a lot of information and a lot to consider and a lot of tea leaves to read. Things seem set for the Islanders to come out the winners here, but most of us have been at similar places with this team. Ledecky might not want to hear this, but we have come to expect nothing but grief, anger and defeat whenever the words “Islanders” and “arena” are used in conjunction with one another.
Lastly, Ledecky IMO seemed surprised some fans worry about them leaving NY. His response: they bought the "New York Islanders," and he emphasizes the New York part of the name when he says it. Says ownership group committed to New York metro area, and all eyes are on Belmont.— Jim Baumbach (@jimbaumbach) December 3, 2017
But, however it turns out, we could soon be coming to the finish line. Which is good because I’m running out of horse racing puns.