If it felt like this week was just a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittle too quiet for the Islanders, I’m happy to report that your ESP or other latent mutant telepathy powers are still functioning as normal.
Per a new article in Newsday, the team will indeed bid on building an arena at the Belmont Park site that everyone and their grandmother with a 516 or 631 area code kinda already figured they would be. In this case, that grandmother is none other than NHL commissioner Gary Bettman who spilled the beans during an AP Sports Editors conference (and who used to have a 516 area code).
Via Robert Brodsky and Jim Baumbach, naturally:
“Yes, there is an RFP [request for proposal] for Belmont and I know they are going to participate in that,” Bettman said of the Islanders. “I believe that everyone thinks there is a terrific opportunity there, if not at Willets Point, to create a more hockey friendly environment for the Islanders, which is something Scott [Malkin] is committed to do.”
When last asked about where the Islanders are going to play in the near future, Bettman was telling WFAN’s Mike Francesa that the renovated Nassau Coliseum wasn’t a long term solution for the club. Bettman said at the time that the Islanders were exploring options beyond Barclays Center, and this little nugget confirms what we all mostly knew already.
As Dom astutely pointed out earlier (and which should be no surprise to anyone who’s been a fan of this team before yesterday), the choice of whether or not they can build on the site isn’t up to Islanders owners Malkin and Jon Ledecky alone. Ultimately, the state of New York and Governor Cuomo will make the final determination. The article already has more than one civic leader wondering about whether this is a good idea or not because of traffic and stuff. (But, please, don’t go harassing anyone on Twitter yet).
However, the article does cite representatives from builder Empire State Development taking with local businesses and even police to “discuss” the RFP. Also, there’s this from Newsday police writer John Asbury, which would also be an interesting added amenity to the arena.
Malkin and Ledecky have been quiet since the end of the season, which isn’t usual for team owners (at least, the ones that aren’t busy firing everyone). While I’ve seen enough episodes of this show to not get too excited about reports like this, my hope is that they’ve been using their time to get their ducks in a row for a realistic, feasible proposal that actually once and for all gets something built for this team.
But until shovel hits pavement, the drip of information continues.