Today’s game at Nassau Coliseum wasn’t a normal preseason game. There were emotions and an intensity present that isn’t normally experienced during games in September between two teams half full of rookies. The Islanders - and John Tavares, naturally - put on a good show in their old building, beating the Flyers 3-2 in overtime.
One of the smiling folks taking in the festivities that afternoon was Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, who provided us with a short, diplomatic update on where the team stands with their bid on the open property at Belmont Park.
First, Brett Cyrgalis of The Post sets the scene:
Yet the fate of the franchise is still in the owners’ hands, and Ledecky was mobbed walking through the corridor as he tried to get to the locker room after the game. He, too, heard the chants to bring this team back to Long Island, but his response was predictably measured in the din of this strange day of hockey.
“I love our fans’ passion,” he said as he walked away.
That passion was very evident in full-throated chants you don’t normally hear at exhibition games. But Arthur Staple of Newsday got some details from Ledecky as to what’s going on with that whole new arena thing.
“[Today’s sellout] means we have an incredible fan base on Long Island and we ought to recognize that and hear that,” Ledecky told Newsday. “We want fans from the entire metropolitan area. They’re coming from all over and we should be able to honor those fans. They love being back here for this game.”
Ledecky deflected any discussion of the team’s proposal to New York State and the future home of the team.
“We’re continuing to study the RFP process,” he said. “There’s a deadline, Sept. 28, and it’s very interesting what they’re doing with that.
So the team hasn’t yet submitted their bid for the land with two weeks still left before the deadline. There’s certainly no rush; getting in early probably won’t speed up the eventual decision, which will happen at some unknown point in the far flung future. We also haven’t heard from any of the other groups that are expected to bid on the property, including, possibly NYCFC of the MLS. The last piece of info we’ve gotten since the RFP was released was a list of written responses from Empire State Development, the state body that is overseeing the process. You can read it, but it wasn’t that exciting.
Is it unusual to wait that long? I don’t know. I’ve never bid on 36 acres of land at a horse racing track owned by the state where new “entertainment, sports, hospitality and retail” venues are expected.
Staple also reports that the Islanders are still actively negotiating with Barclays Center on their current lease. As for coming back to the Coliseum full time, don’t bet on it.
So, there you go. If you talked to Jon Ledecky on Sunday at the Coliseum, it sounds like he heard you.
And you know who encouraged him to take a walk among the tailgaters? Another guy who’s waiting for this whole Belmont thing to shakeout:
“Today is about the fans and today is about a guy like John Tavares telling me to go out to the tailgates. He told me that at the captains’ golf outing last week, about how much he enjoys seeing this environment. You can see the twinkle in his eye getting to play this game today.”
Tavares just gets us, man.