NY Islanders Plan to Pitch Arena at Belmont Park, NHL Says

New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (29) watches the puck slip by Washington Capital goaltender Brandon Holtby (70) on a shot from John Tavares (not pictured) for the opening goal (Photo by Joe Nuzzo).

The New York Islanders plan to formally submit a proposal to build a new arena on vacant land next to Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters Friday.

Bettman confirmed reports that the team’s owners, which currently calls the Barclays Center in Brooklyn home, is prepared to pitch a plan to build a new arena on state-owned land adjacent to the racetrack, but thinks the newly renovated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is “not a long-term option,” according to multiple New York news outlets. Bettman reportedly made the comments to The Associated Press Sports Editors at his Manhattan office.

“Yes, there is an RFP (request for proposal) for Belmont and I know they are going to participate in that,” Bettman was quoted as saying in the New York Daily News. “I believe that everyone thinks there is a terrific opportunity there, if not at Willets Point (in Queens), to create a more hockey friendly environment for the Islanders, which is something Scott (Malkin) is committed to do.”

The comments come about two months after reports surfaced that some New York City sports executives were considering a plan to fund construction of a new arena adjacent to Belmont Park. Bettman’s remarks come about four months after reports that the hockey team may skate from Brookyln back to their original home, Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, which reopened earlier this month after more than a year of renovations.

The state has been considering proposals for the land for years, including one to build a soccer stadium for the New York Cosmos. In response to reports of such proposals, Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino called for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to upgrade the Long Island Rail Road station at Belmont Park to accommodate the crowds that would come with year-round train service.