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Islanders Arena Dreams: Belmont RFP Expected Monday

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Newsday reports the next step of the process is imminent. And it’s a long process.

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two
Fans at a hockey game watch the Belmont Stakes because we are gambling degenerates at heart.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The long-awaited request for proposals (RFP) to redevelop land next to Belmont Park, an RFP the New York Islanders are supposed to eagerly respond to, is finally imminent.

According to a Newsday report by Randi Marshall, Empire State Development is finalizing the RFP to make it public as soon as Monday. The Islanders ownership has long been expected to submit a proposal, part of what would be a long-term and made-for-hockey home for the franchise, which has had a rocky relationship with the imperfect-for-hockey Barclays Center.

Chances are they would partner with another developer, though what form that would take is to be determined.

Assuming they do, is it a slam dunk to succeed?

Of course not. A previous RFP for the site was withdrawn after the state was unsatisfied with the bids received. And as Marshall expanded on Twitter, the process will be thorough and surely attract multiple strong proposals.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said back in April that the Islanders would participate in the bid; that much has rarely been in question. But this is a public, and by law not pre-ordained, process.

Though many signs raise hope for the Isles, many suffering fans can recall hope for the redevelopment possibilities back in the place that forced them to wander away from Nassau in the first place.

A public hearing earlier this month drew lots of Islanders fans and Fellow Concerned Citizens. That was just another step in the process to formulate the RFP.

Oh, and Why a New Arena...?

Wait, didn’t the Isles just move a few seasons ago? Aren’t they in a snazzy world-class arena now?

In case you’re new here, this all plays out amid a backdrop of the Islanders and Barclays Center both wanting better things from their current relationship. According to numerous reports, the Brooklyn arena isn’t getting as much revenue as it expected from the original deal; the Islanders, who get a guaranteed payment from the arena as part of the lease, aren’t happy with ice conditions and the fact that it’s basketball-only design leaves so many fans unhappy with the in-seat experience.

Per the terms of their “ironclad” 25-year lease, the Islanders and Barclays Center have until Jan. 1, 2018 to renegotiate terms or, then, have 30 days to notify each other of a decision to opt out of the lease.

Meanwhile Mikhail Prokhorov, who owns the Islanders co-tenant NBA Nets and Barclays Center itself, is looking to separate the corporate ownership of his NBA team and the arena, opening the flexibility to sell one or both.

So there are a lot of moving parts here. At least the Isles have options...probably. We think.