"The Islanders belong on Long Island - and today we start building the state-of-the-art home this team and their fans deserve while generating thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity for the region's economy," Governor Cuomo said. "With seven more Islanders games at the Coliseum this season, fans will have even more opportunities to see their favorite team and generate momentum for the move to their new home in two years. At the end of the day this project is about building on two great Long Island traditions - Belmont Park and the Islanders - and making them greater than ever."
"The construction of the new arena at Belmont Park will redevelop the home of The Islanders, support more games and events, and increase visitors to the region," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "This significant project will establish Belmont Park as a sports destination and will create thousands of jobs and boost economic activity on Long Island."
Jon Ledecky, New York Islanders Co-Owner, said, "We celebrate this historic day with our loyal fans and thank Governor Cuomo, who has championed the Belmont Park Arena project from the start. The Islanders also thank the elected officials and our community for their support in helping reach this franchise milestone."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "Thanks to the commitment, dedication and vision of Governor Cuomo, Islanders fans are getting the world-class home this team deserves. The Islanders belong on Long Island and the future is incredibly bright for this franchise."
Announced in December 2017, the Belmont Redevelopment Project will turn 43 acres of underutilized parking lots at Belmont Park into a premier sports and hospitality destination, including a new 19,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders hockey team and other events, a 250-key hotel, a state-of-the-art retail village and office and community space. In addition, the project developers - New York Belmont Partners - will improve two local parks in the surrounding community.
Through an innovative public-private partnership, the developers will also help fund a new full-time Long Island Rail Road station in Elmont - the first new, full-time LIRR stop in nearly 50 years. This new station will allow riders to access to new arena, hotel, and retail village from both the east and west, while providing a new commuting option for Long Islanders.
The new arena is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2021 - 2022 hockey season. Over the next two years, construction of the arena, hotel and retail village is expected to create 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity. By 2024, the project is expected to sustain 3,200 new full-time jobs, produce $858 million in annual economic activity and generate tens of millions of dollars in new annual tax revenue.
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO Eric Gertler said, "We are proud of the great benefits this project will bring to Long Island - from jobs and new tax revenue to a permanent home for the Islanders - and are excited to break ground today. This project has gone through an open, robust collaborative process, and I'd like to acknowledge those New Yorkers who participated, helping create a better project here at Belmont, which we all can be proud of."
Beginning in October 2019, the Islanders have agreed to play 28 regular season games at NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, during the 2019-2020 hockey season - seven more than previously announced. In total, 68 percent of the team's regular season home games during the 2019-2020 season will now be played at the Coliseum. The team is able to play at the Coliseum thanks to $6 million in state-funded upgrades to the building. In January 2018, Governor Cuomo announced the Islanders would return to Long Island three years ahead of schedule, later announcing the team would play 20 games - or roughly half of their regular season home games - on Long Island.
For approximately two years, Empire State Development and New York Belmont Partners, and its affiliate, New York Arena Partners - a joint venture among Sterling Equities, the Scott Malkin Group and the Oak View Group - have shepherded the Belmont Redevelopment Project through a rigorous and transparent public review process, which included 12 public meetings and hearings and dozens of meetings with local organizations and stakeholders. Thanks to input from local officials, community members and the project's Community Advisory Committee, the project was improved at each iteration in the review process - culminating in the addition of the new Elmont LIRR station. Earlier this summer, the project received its public approvals from the Empire State Development Board of Directors, the Franchise Oversight Board and the Public Authorities Control Board.
The Belmont Redevelopment complements the billions of dollars invested on Long Island since Governor Cuomo took office - supporting the region's world-class academic and research institutions, revitalizing downtowns, bolstering the agriculture, manufacturing and life sciences sectors, improving infrastructure and investing in Long Island's tourism industry. Thanks to these commitments, Long Island's unemployment rate has fallen from 7.1% in June 2011 to 3.1% this year, while tourism spending has grown more than 20% to nearly $6 billion. The 28 million tourists who visit Long Island annually support more than 75,000 jobs.
Senator Leroy Comrie said, "My congratulations to Governor Cuomo, project principals and the New York Islanders for your steadfast commitment to the Belmont Park Development Project. We are here today, able to break ground on this transformative project, thanks to a thoughtful and collaborative process that engaged residents, advocates and community partners. I particularly look forward to the creation of a full-service LIRR station, a comprehensive traffic mitigation strategy for local roads and the Cross Island Parkway and living-wage jobs for our local residents."
Senator Anna M. Kaplan said, "Today's groundbreaking represents the culmination of an extensive and robust planning process that has resulted in a project to support our local economy, invest in our community, and bring the Islanders home where they belong. I thank Governor Cuomo, the staff of ESD, and all the community members who provided input on the project for engaging in a robust dialog and working together to ensure that this project will really deliver for Long Island."
Senator Todd Kaminsky said, "The Belmont Park Redevelopment Project is poised to be a game-changer for the community and Long Island at-large. This vital investment in our region will transform Belmont into a hub for entertainment, commerce and economic development and will bring our beloved Islanders home. I look forward to continuing to work with the surrounding communities to ensure the success of this transformational project."
Assembly Member Clyde Vanel said, "The communities surrounding Belmont Park, especially Eastern Queens and Elmont, have long sought thoughtful economic development and investments in transit - and that is exactly what this project will create. We are excited for the new jobs, new economic activity, and new amenities this project will create, and thank Governor Cuomo for his vision and leadership to make today a reality.""
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said, "This groundbreaking is a milestone marking a new era for Nassau County. Say goodbye to the Land of No - we're growing again and building for the future. Whether it's here at Belmont, the new HUB, our revitalized downtowns, or new transit-oriented development across our County - we're saying YES to making Nassau County a vibrant place to live, work, and play. YES to economic opportunity, YES to an improved public transit system, and YES to the Islanders playing here, where they belong. The Belmont development will achieve three critical goals for us: boost our economy, expand our public transit network, and bring our Islanders home - a hat trick for Nassau County."
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said, "I'm pleased to be the Supervisor who welcomes our NY Islanders back and will continue to advocate to ensure that community benefits are delivered and impacts are mitigated for neighboring communities."
NYRA CEO & President Dave O'Rourke said, "We are excited to welcome the New York Islanders to Belmont Park. This project will create jobs and economic opportunity for countless New Yorkers now and in the decades to come and will contribute to the continued success of thoroughbred racing at Belmont Park."