After nearly two years of waiting, hoping and a seemingly endless amount of hurdles to jump, the Islanders new arena in Belmont Park is finally set to officially begin construction next month. The Islanders won the right to build the arena in December of 2017, and the new arena is set to break ground this September! However, construction has already reportedly begun.
This new arena will cost $1.3 billion and will also include a shopping mall, restaurants, and a hotel. The arena is projected to be completed in time for the 2021-22 NHL season which will mean the Islanders could very well split time between two buildings for at least another year. But don’t be surprised if it is pushed back a season due to the sheer size of the establishment.
Belmont Park will undoubtedly be the permanent home the Islanders have been looking for nearly a decade. The arena will consist of 19,000 seats, 4,000 more seats than the Nassau Coliseum. And unlike the Barclays Center, the new Belmont Park arena will be built for hockey and made for the Islanders!
The arena had to cross many hurdles to get to the point of groundbreaking. Numerous protests of the Belmont Park arena have occurred in the last year. Many residents of the Elmont area have spoken out against the new complex. They believe that the arena will damage their current living conditions and the community that Belmont Park has created. They have sighted traffic and noise as two major issues regarding the new project.
But many believe that Belmont Park will create a new gathering place and entertainment hub for the New York area. On July 3, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a new train station of the Long Island Railroad located at the future site of the Belmont Park arena. This new station will connect residents of the Long Island area to the Elmont area creating easy access to the arena that will be very helpful for current and new Islander fans.
As we look ahead into the future for the Islanders, it is known that there will still be three more full seasons until the arena is complete. The Islanders will have many different options on where to play their next three seasons.
The current option is splitting time between both the Nassau Coliseum and the Barclays Center. While this remains the most likely option for the Islanders over the next few seasons, it does not seem like the best option for the franchise.
The second and most popular option among fans is playing the entire season at the Nassau Coliseum. This would give the Islanders one single arena and a place to play until the new arena is complete. However, due to seating capacity and lack of suites, this does not seem like an option for the team. Because of this, it looks as if the Islanders will be splitting time between two arenas for a few years.
But for now, it is time to rejoice as the Islanders will finally have an arena to call home.
Key word: Home. A term that will no longer be in question for a franchise that will finally get stability.