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Islanders News: Stepping up to the post

Don’t get too excited yet, but keep your eyes open today.

149th Belmont Stakes - Previews
Hey, we’re walkin’ here.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

The long-awaited Belmont Park Request for Proposals has finally been unleashed and we now wait for the Islanders to make their equally long-awaited bid on the property. The due date for proposals is September 28th, so it might not be today because the Islanders love to torture us.

The property in question is two parcels of land that are now parking lots - one eight acre slot next to the part-time LIRR station there and another 28 acre area on the other side of Hempstead Turnpike.

Newsday’s Robert Brodsky was the first to post an article about it last night that also contains the full RFP that you can read here. Obviously, the state (which owns the land), the venerable park (which first opened in 1905) and the communities (of Elmont and Floral Park) all have specific ideas for what the two parcels of land should be used for. These include the need to:

  • Provide entertainment, sports, recreational, retail or hospitality options that enhance the existing racetrack.
  • Use environmentally friendly building practices, provide jobs for area residents and benefit the surrounding community.
  • List community amenities that will be included in the project as well as a detailed plan for community outreach.

There’s no indication of when the winning bid will be announced. The Islanders have until January to extend, continue or opt-out of their lease with Barclays Center so that could be a very interesting month if both events happen around the same time.

As a guy who’s written way too much about the Islanders’ search for a usable, stable home arena, I won’t go so far as to say I’m confident they’ll win the RFP. But there are a few factors working in their favor.

  • They’ve had a lot of time and clearly done research into planning what they want to build. Let’s hope it fits the criteria.
  • They’re backed by the big money Oak View Group, who will no doubt want them to be part of their arena alliance that packages acts and venues across the country. Few people know arenas better than these guys.
  • One of the Islanders owners is Scott Malkin, a guy whose entire fortune was made from building high end outlet malls all around the world. Seems like he knows a thing or two about getting things built.
  • You know Gary Bettman wants this to happen.
  • The only people who don’t want this to happen are the ones that just spent a $130 million to renovate a Nassau Coliseum that should have been torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.

So while it could be a big day, remember: THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS. Nothing ends here. There’s an open spot of land and the Islanders are one of a few people that want it. Somebody will most assuredly not want them to. We’ll have to wait and see if they get it.

Beyond the Barnyard