Islander Fans Should Hold Their Horses with Belmont Arena Excitement

In December 2017, Islander fans were elated when their team’s bid to build a new state-of-the-art arena at Belmont Park was picked by New York State. Finally, the Islanders would have a proper place to call home for the next couple of decades; our issues would be over. However, there are a lot of glaring problems associated with the project that are yet to be addressed.

When the Islanders played at the Barclays Center, the organization had an unconventional agreement with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment. BSE would control all sales and marketing, and Charles Wang, Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky would receive a flat rate of $53.5 million dollars per year. This agreement was great for the Islanders owners but, it did not work for BSE. The Barclays Center was losing money – and a lot of it – with the Islanders in Brooklyn. The fanbase was refusing to make the long trek on reverse rush hour trains to a building with poor sightlines, and an uncentered jumbotron. Due to these failures, and many others, Islander fans, including myself, refused to go to the Barclays Center. As the arena’s seats were sitting empty during games, BSE was losing more and more money, as the Islanders slipped to last in attendance in the NHL. It didn’t impact the Islanders owners pockets as the Barclays Center was paying them a flat rate each season. Eventually, Brooklyn had enough, and the Islanders were virtually evicted from  their “home” arena.

Belmont Arena Rendering

With the new arena at Belmont, the Islanders owners had a chance to start with a clean slate. Alas, it’s been reported they have already entered in to a similar destined-to-fail arrangement for the team’s sales and marketing rights. The New York Arena Partners (Scott Malkin, the Wilpon family, and Oak View Group) are in charge of the construction of the new arena, but the Islanders have contractually passed the team’s sales and marketing rights off to the Oak View Group. Oak View Group owns the new Seattle expansion franchise coming to the NHL in 2021; could this unorthodox business arrangement cause a conflict of interest between the Islanders and their arena landlords? The Islanders will now be locked up into a lease similar to the one that got them evicted from Brooklyn – IN THE ARENA THEY BUILT! This awkward agreement could cause the Islanders to miss out on a lot of the money generated from Belmont Arena and takes marketing out of the hands of the Islanders organization. What would happen if Belmont Arena does not work out and the fans stop coming? Would the Islanders be evicted from their own building? Ledecky and Malkin are receiving guaranteed payments from Oak View, PLUS they will have their shiny new mall. What will the fans have?

A major issue of Belmont Arena is the parking situation. The current plan has the arena parking divided between three lots to make up around 6,000 spots, but around 400-500 places will be reserved for Elmont/Bellerose/Floral Park residents who will use the new train station as a commuter lot. Let’s say that there are only 5,800 parking spots available for a 19,000-person arena. The Nassau Coliseum holds 7,000 spaces. Yes, a new LIRR train station for the arena will be installed so the number of spaces needed may be less; but parking is still an issue. The nearest parking lot will be located on the other side of the paddocks and the new hotel from the arena, and the other two lots are each more than one-half mile away. Trams will be provided to fans coming and going to/from the lots and the train station. Before the game, this may not be an issue as fans come and go at different times before the game. However, after the game is another story. When the Islander game ends, 19,000 fans will stream out of Belmont Arena at the same time. Does anyone really believe the trams will be a viable way to get people to their cars or to catch a train? This is another unprecedented  burden placed on the fans of a pro sports team, and this is not a long-term solution for the next 30 years. What happens if a tram breaks down? What happens if a Long Islander misses their train because a tram took too long and now they have to wait an hour in the snow in January for the next train? The Islanders have not answered these questions.

Belmont Arena Train Station Rendering

The most crucial failure of the Belmont Arena plan is it’s security risks. We’ve already discussed the parking lots being far away from the arena and what it would take for the fans to get to their cars. What happens if there’s a legitimate emergency where people would need to evacuate the arena premises? In addition to this, whose police/fire/emergency response division is in charge of this new development? Is Nassau County going to create a new police precinct to ensure a safe environment at Belmont Arena and the surrounding area? Who pays for that? Many questions are still yet to be answered. The safety and security of those attending a hockey game or a concert or another event should be the #1 priority.

Based on all the rhetoric coming from Albany and from the Islanders owners, this project sounds as sure as an empty-netter. But is it really? There are significant issues associated with this project that are yet to be answered. The financials, parking, and security are the three biggest red flags at Belmont Arena. The favorites may have taken an early lead, but Islander fans should hold their horses until we see Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal in the Winner’s Circle.

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. MF says:

    Who was your source for the landlord arrangement? NYI Fan Central and his tin foil hat?

    1. Not even close. We have an inside trusted source

    2. What tin foil hat do you need to wear to know Dolan owns newsday and killed 2011 referendum with his newspaper and that phony $58 they made up to stir up a no vote. Then Dolan bid for the Coliseum two years later to put a Rag logo and his AHL team in the Coliseum? This arena is for Dolan, and his cronies, Oakview and Azoff, revenge because he owns Cuomo who gives him billions, while we get articles from Dolan’s Newspaper and television network because NYI got 6 million dollars, while they just got 600 million and a ground breaking for a Penn Station entrance. Why don’t you read,learn something, you don’t need sources, you need a history lesson.
      Richard Brown of Sterling Enterprises aka dead beat Wilpon’s said the NYI are a 41-day tenant only, it’s not their arena. Brian Garrison is Scott Malkin’s guy for Belmont, he went to LA with Browne last summer and both of them got their marching orders from Oakview/Dolan, who can’t even do a renovation in Seattle without being 300 million in a hole. Dolan’s suing everyone in LA, including Mayor of Inglewood & Clippers because they want an arena on his doorstep. Him and Irving Azoff (110 plus events at Belmont) decided to demolish the Forum to get the Lakers, complete with e-mails from Azoff, Leiweke and Dolan approval to go ahead.

      Let me guess you guys were the ones who thought Smg aka Philadelphia Flyers were our friends all those 5,000 seat nights in Nassau.too. Never learn.

      1. I’m assuming you know that it was announced that Dolan will no longer be involved with Belmont a couple months ago when he decided to seek other ventures…

  2. JAJ says:

    The questions that you asked about security, precinct, policing and who’s in charge of that area were answered in the Final Impact Statement by the ESD and backing by official of multiple agencies and departments. You definitely are reaching to stir uncertainty, misinformation, and scare tactics with this one buddy.

    1. I can promise you that we are not. We have a separate inside source

      1. JAJ says:

        What “inside source” would say that the FEIS that is posted online did not address security when there are photo copies and statements by multiple law enforcement, including the NCPD saying their department will keep the 5th precinct where it’s at. We all could have “inside sources” but a source doesn’t mean the information given would be completely accurate. Let’s not create added and attention filled drama to those who live for that. Let the process play out in documented form and we will hold those accountable by their words!

      2. We trust our source and obviously we read the FEIS. They covered some security aspects, but a large amount of questions still remain

  3. JAJ says:

    Buddy, if you did read the FEIS throughly, saying “In addition to this, whose police/fire/emergency response division is in charge of this new development? Is Nassau County going to create a new police precinct to ensure a safe environment at Belmont Arena and the surrounding area?” would not have been phrased as two questions as all were documented to be answered with notices from those agencies attached in another appendix. Why ask who’s in charge? Why ask if a new police station would be necessary? So maybe you mistakenly asked those as a question but it doesn’t make sense if you read the FEIS. You could’ve easily commented on the fact that those were answered by ESD in your article but something may be missing from their responses, which isn’t the case. And I know people with “sources” that they trusted to say construction would’ve started July 18th but clearly that won’t be the case. Something isn’t adding up but misinformation will always thrive in this day in age.

  4. PB says:

    Ahhhh The “Good ‘Ol Inside Source” trick. I love this trick. Its 99% in effective (Based on my source of course :-)) So what is “your source” involved in on the inside? Politics? Arena Development? Islanders? Surely you can say that and not ruin anything. Or you can keep using the fake tactic to get opinions and not real info out there.

    1. Arena development

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