As expected, the New York Islanders officially entered a bid to construct an arena complex at Belmont Park on Thursday, partnering with The Oakview Group and Sterling Properties for the right to build on the 43-acres of vacant land at the race track.
So... that’s it? They get a new building now, right? Nope.
This is just the first step in what is the team’s latest quest for a new, modern, money-generating home. Some of us have been down this road before. Many, many times before. So while this is a significant moment, it’s important to remember that nothing is done until it’s done.
The team has joined forces with two big money entities in a consortium called “New York Arena Partners.” The Oak View Group includes longtime arena big shot Tim Leiweke and music industry major domo Irving Azoff among its leadership. MSG owner and resident bluesman Jim Dolan is just one an investor in the arena act managing company but his name leads a lot of the stories about the Islanders’ connection with Oak View because of his ownership of a certain other area hockey team. Sterling Properties is the development company owned by Mets owner Fred Wilpon, who’s uh... a little busy right now.
No details were released by the Islanders today (sorry if you came looking for renderings), but the team did put out a statement saying, “New York Arena Partners, LLC has submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park, which we look forward to discussing with the Empire State Development Corporation.”
Islanders' ownership, including Scott Malkin, in Detroit today to tour Little Caesars Arena, as they work towards building their own arena. https://t.co/F9p6CblIc8— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) September 28, 2017
Empire State Development is the state body that will choose the winning proposal. When that will be is anyone’s guess.
As for who else is bidding, we don’t know them all yet but we know some of the more high profile ones. Soccer club NYCFC of the MLS put in a proposal for a 23,000-seat outdoor stadium, but they acknowledge that the Belmont property is a little far away from where they play now in Yankee Stadium not to mention the “NYC” that’s right in their name.
Big shot builder Ed Blumenfeld also submitted a bid, but we don’t know what he plans to do there. In the last RFP for the property in 2013, Blumenfeld proposed a wide-ranging mixed-use collection of buildings including a Costco, a supermarket and a community center. Empire State eventually pulled all bids after delays in the selection process stretched on too long.
[Air Raid Horn] Did somebody say “Delays?” That’s right, kids. This is still Nassau County, which means there’s always some snake ready to jump out from under a rock and strike with deadly precision and excruciating, if empty, political posturing.
Thursday’s snake was a familiar name: Ed Mangano, out going lame duck county executive currently under investigation for corruption with a trial date set for January 2018, decided today was a fine day to offer Belmont to Amazon, which is looking to build a new east coast headquarters.
Mangano pitched Belmont Park as the best Nassau County site in the competition to find a second corporate headquarters for Amazon in North America. If state officials were to go along with that idea, which is unlikely, it probably would mean withdrawing the RFP — again — and changing their minds about how the property should be used. So, was this really yet another attempt by Mangano to lure the Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum?
The request for proposals for the property specifically stated the goal of making Belmont a, “premier destination for entertainment, sports, recreation, retail and hospitality on Long Island.” Amazon fits none of those bills, but that didn’t stop ol’ Ed from throwing it into the ring anyway, probably so he could get his wife another $450,000 a year job she didn’t actually have to show up to. In short, Ed Mangano is the worst.
So, once again, we wait. The Islanders season starts next Friday in Columbus. Their home game schedule begins the next night in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center against Buffalo.
The team, along with Oak View, is actively re-negotiating with Barclays on their lease, which can be opted out of by either party at the end of January.