The new New York Islanders arena planned at Belmont Park will indeed benefit from a new Long Island Rail Road train station that will serve traffic from both the west and east, according to a prepared statement released by the New York governor’s office today.
The announcement was not accompanied by a grand event with a random appearance by Billy Joel, but the parties laid out their vision — including the usual “look at how great this is for the economy” analysis — in a statement with quotes from politicians and developers.
The key details:
- Yes, it’s a new station with access to both west (Jamaica, etc.) and east (where a great deal of the fanbase is based on Long Island).
- The developing consortium, New York Arena Partners will pay 92 percent — $97 million of an expected $105 million station construction cost.
- Previous reports have the entire development including the Islanders’ 19,000-seat arena and entertainment complex, a 250-room hotel and 435,000 square feet of retail space.
- The state claims the entire $1.26 billion Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, including the new station, will help mitigate traffic concerns and generate nearly $50 million in new public revenue per year and produce $725 million in annual economic output.
Such arena (and surroundings) economic impact claims are always to be treated with skepticism, but at least here it’s chiefly the developers who are footing the bill.
About the transit impact:
Now, instead of forcing Long Islanders coming from the east of Belmont to ride past Belmont Park to Jamaica Station and then transfer to a train that backtracks to the spur, travelers who live east of Belmont on the Hempstead, Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma branches will have a one-seat public transit ride straight to Belmont Park.
In addition to providing a regular, full-time public transit option to and from Belmont Park and the new arena, hotel and retail village, the new train station will also serve as an additional commuting option for area residents - something the community has needed for years. The station is expected to receive service approximately every half hour during peak times and hourly during off-peak periods. The parking lot north of the Belmont race track, which has 2,860 spaces, will be shared by commuters and arena patrons.
This new station is further from the new arena site than the existing Belmont spur, but they have plans for that with shuttles from the station to the arena:
The new train station will be located between the Queens Village and Bellerose stations on the LIRR’s Main Line, just east of the Cross Island Parkway. Electric shuttle buses - which are already planned to run from parking lots within Belmont Park to the arena site - will also serve LIRR riders traveling to the grandstand and planned arena, hotel and retail village.
Support from the Senator
State Senator Todd Kaminsky issued a statement of support, which Randi Marshall of Newsday noted, “such full throated support from a state senator whose district includes critics. Worth noting.” Here’s Sen. Kaminsky’s statement:
“This brand new train station is an indispensable part of the proposed complex at Belmont because it provides a green alternative to overcrowding area roads and offers Elmont residents access to their own, long-sought-after station. This investment in key infrastructure is commensurate in scale with the tremendous economic potential that this project can unlock for Long Island. Thank you Governor Cuomo for your steadfast commitment to improving Long Island’s economy.”
Senator Kaminsky has staunchly advocated for a full-time Long Island Rail Road station at the site of the Belmont Park redevelopment. In April 2017, Kaminsky and his Senate colleagues wrote a letter to Empire State Development (“ESD”) President Howard Zemsky highlighting the need for full-time service at the Belmont LIRR station as part of the Redevelopment Project. After ESD released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement in December 2018, Kaminsky urged State authorities to include a full-time train station as a part of the project. Kaminsky also questioned the MTA Chair and ESD President at three Joint Legislative Budget Hearings in 2018 and 2019 regarding the need to establish a full-time LIRR station at Belmont to serve the community’s needs while easing congestion.
For Islanders fans, this is welcome news that really removes the last remaining questions about whether the new arena will address access concerns that accompanied Nassau Coliseum (no direct rail service but plenty of parking and tailgating space) and Barclays Center (rail service but no tailgating space).
As we said when the Long Island Business News first reported this expected announcement on July 3, every fan’s mileage and preferences will vary. But this seems to be the happiest medium to finally put the team in a revenue-generating, accessible home it can finally call its own.
All parties involved no doubt hope this also helps answer remaining questions and dampen, if not completely eliminate, opposition to a project that appears to be speeding toward groundbreaking. (On that note, follow this thread from Randi Marshall of Newsday relaying people speaking at today’s Empire State Development meeting. Some of them are...interesting.)
There is plenty more in the official statement, including links to the economic impact analysis. But Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky sums it up: “Today we celebrate with our loyal fans and we thank Governor Cuomo, the elected officials, and the community for their ongoing support. Next Stop: Belmont!”
Not a moment too soon.