MINEOLA, N.Y. (AP) – The New York Islanders hockey team may be returning to the New York suburbs after a move to Brooklyn floundered.
Several news organizations including Newsday reported Tuesday that the team won a bid to build a new arena on the grounds of the Belmont Park racetrack, home to the third leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown each June. An announcement by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo was expected Wednesday.
The Islanders submitted a development bid for a portion of the Belmont complex in September with several partners including owners of the New York Mets and Madison Square Garden. A spokesman for the partners declined to comment on Tuesday.
The state-run Empire State Development Corp. announced in July a request for proposals to develop 36 acres (15 hectares) of vacant and underutilized parking lots at the site of the racetrack. The state also solicited bids to develop the land in 2012 but wound up scrapping all proposals a year ago.
Also bidding on the site was the New York City FC soccer team, which envisioned building a stadium on the site, in Elmont, just east of New York City. The soccer team is partially owned by the New York Yankees.
Last month, Islanders owner Jon Ledecky said the team will play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn through the end of next season and the “singular focus” beyond that was for a new arena at Belmont Park.
The team played at the Nassau Coliseum from its inception in 1972 until 2015, winning the Stanley Cup every year from 1980 to 1983. A move to the Brooklyn arena was greeted with displeasure by fans, who always considered the team to be a Long Island staple.
The Islanders played a preseason game at the refurbished Coliseum, now called NYCB Live. After renovations the arena now has a capacity of about 13,000 for hockey, less than the 16,170 it had previously and the 15,795 currently at Barclays Center.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said playing games there on a regular basis was not viable.
“We are locked and loaded on Belmont,” Ledecky told the team’s beat writers last month. “We have the blinders on for Belmont. We’re not looking at other places, other things, other opportunities. We want to make Belmont a reality.”
The Islanders are in their third season at the Barclays Center arena. The team’s move to the Brooklyn arena was announced as a 25-year deal and appeared to secure its future in New York amid talk it could move to another city.
The team has an opt-out clause on its lease in January and can leave as early as after this season. Either side can terminate the deal effective at the end of the 2018-19 season.
Newsday reported the Islanders’ bid includes an 18,000-seat, year-round arena that would host 150 events annually plus 435,000 square feet (40,400 square meters) of space for retail, a hotel with 200 to 250 rooms and a 10,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) innovation center that would be developed with resident input.
The team is last in average attendance this year in the league.