Horses

Hockey Team Will Build Arena On Belmont Park Property

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Architect's rendering of the new multi-purpose arena to be built on unused land behind Belmont Park's paddock. The arena will be the home of the National Hockey League's New York Islanders. Credits: NYRA
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Andrew M. Cuomo with Howard Zemsky, of Empire State Development Corporation, Jon Ledecky, of the N.Y. Islanders, entertainer Billy Joel, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Islanders representatives Credits: Adam Coglianese | NYRA
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The New York Islanders scored the winning goal. The New York Football (Soccer) Team missed the net.

That was the verdict at a press conference at Belmont Park on Wednesday when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a group headed by the National Hockey League team known as New York Development Partners will construct an 18,000-seat multi-purpose arena on unused land at Belmont Park.

Construction is expected to start next year with a target of 2020 for completion.

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The New York Racing Association has not announced any changes in its operations for the near future.

At present, Belmont is scheduled to run a spring-summer meeting from April 27 through July 15. After a 40-day meeting at Saratoga, Belmont will stage its 36-day fall meeting from September 7 though Oct. 28.

However, changes certainly appear to be on the horizon.

When the fall-winter meeting opened at Aqueduct, a second turf course was added and the main track was redone for year-round use.

Thus, if construction gets in the way of racing at Belmont, it's a short hop over to Ozone Park and the Big A.

Taking an even longer look, NYRA CEO Chris Kay told the Thoroughbred Daily News earlier this week, “We would like to see night racing at Belmont, primarily because the sport of horse racing needs to generate new generations of fans.”

In addition to the arena for the Islanders being built directly behind Belmont's paddock, plans call for 435,000 square feet of retail space and a 200 to 250 room luxury hotel.

The existing railroad station that serves Belmont Park will be upgraded to accommodate both racing and hockey fans and those attending the other sporting events at the new arena.

According to Newsday, New York Area Partners is being joined in the project by Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm controlled by the New York Mets' Wilpon family and Oak View Group, an arena development organization backed by Madison Square Garden.

They are expected to sign a 49-year lease and pay $40 million in rent.

In giving the OK to the arena, the soccer club lost out in its bid for an outdoor stadium and other amenities.

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