The wait seems to be almost over for the New York Islanders.
After more than a year of speculation and doubting, it looks as though some good news is on the way regarding the team’s future arena situation.
According to a report by Long Island Business News, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will be at Belmont Park on Monday to announce plans to build a new train station for the new arena to be built on the grounds.
The venue will serve as the Islanders’ home, providing the franchise with a state-of-the-art, hockey-first building. It’s something the organization has lacked for years, playing their home games at the crumbling Nassau Coliseum before moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015.
The partnership with Brooklyn was a disaster. The fan base refused to make the trip out to the Big Apple to sit in an arena with overwhelming numbers of obstructed-view and overpriced seating. It led to the Islanders and arena nixing their 25-year lease and forcing the franchise to look for a new home yet again.
New York State awarded the Islanders the right to build a new arena in Elmont, NY in December of 2017. But an extended environmental review has delayed developers and the team getting shovels into the ground.
The drawn-out process has led many to speculate that the new arena would never be built. However, Cuomo’s announcement is expected to be the warm-up act for a soon-to-be groundbreaking.
An LIRR station that provides full service to Belmont Park will be a necessity to get the heart of the team’s fan base out to the arena.
Belmont Park runs adjacent with the Cross Island Expressway, meaning vehicular traffic will likely be heavy on game nights.
In the meantime, the renovated Nassau Coliseum, which is too small to take the Islanders in full-time, will host over 20 home games for a second-straight year.
While it provides Islanders fans with a feeling of nostalgia, playing in two different arenas has its drawbacks. It could very well play a large factor as to why big-name free agents are hesitant to sign with the team.
Most recently, Artemi Panarin turned down a $12.5 million per year contract with the Islanders to join the Rangers, who offered less money.
A new, modern arena with all the bells and whistles will only help in the Islanders’ recruitment efforts in the future. They already have a solid foundation in place as Year No. 2 of the Lou Lamoriello and Barry Trotz era is set to get underway in October.