The New York Islanders and the NHL learned a little bit more about the team's new home arena near Belmont Race Track in Elmont, NY.
On Thursday, Empire State Development (ESD) held its board of directors meeting discussing when they will release their draft environmental impact statement (EIS).
Newsday's Jim Baumbach reported that there will be public hearings on the draft EIS on Jan. 9 and 10, but there is still much work to do and plenty of problems to overcome.
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One of them is transportation as the arena will create more traffic around an already congested area that includes Hempstead Turnpike and the Cross Island Parkway.
The LIRR announced Wednesday that it will provide two trains before and after every game, as first reported by Newsday, where they will run from Jamaica station in Queens. The possibility of trains from eastern Long Island going straight to the arena will be discussed in the future as a way to alleviate further car traffic. The Belmont LIRR station only operates on horse racing days, meaning it lies dormant for most of the winter.
Tom Conoscenti of ESD stated that they are working with transportation management and GPS companies while offering carpool incentives to make getting to the game as pain-free as possible, per Baumbach.
ESD approved of the Islanders' bid for a $1.2 billion development, which includes a 19,000-seat arena, 435,000 feet of retail space, a movie theater, and hotel, last December. It will force the Belmont station to expand its service year-round.
However, a shovel has not been able to break ground due to the environmental review process that deems how the project will affect the surrounding area. If the findings are acceptable, expect ground to be broken early in May of 2019 with a 2021 completion date.
For the time being, the Islanders will be splitting their home games between the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and their original home, the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale until the arena's completion.
The Islanders signed a 25-year lease with the Barclays Center in 2015 after Nassau County refused to refurbish the then-43-year-old arena. The results in Brooklyn have been disastrous as the Islanders have the league's worst attendance record while the Barclays Center has continued to lose money.
Saturday provided a return to the renovated Coliseum, the team's first regular-season game in the venue in over three years where a sellout crowd of 13,917 welcomed the franchise back home. However, the new-look building is not a long-term solution for the Islanders given the lack of seats and high-end, modern amenities.