Home Sweet Home; Islanders Win Belmont
Say goodbye to Brooklyn, the Islanders are coming back home!
Welcome back indeed New York Islanders fans. Welcome back. It’s been a very difficult decade for Islanders fans all around the state, as they’ve been in a state of flux when it came to where they would be playing their home games in the future. First it was the Lighthouse Project, then it was the Nassau Coliseum Referendum, then Seattle, Kansas City, Quebec, Brooklyn, and now finally Belmont Park, where the Islanders will be in a iron-clad 49 year lease with Belmont.
This is going to be more of an opinion piece than anything. I’ll have some FAQ answered for you at the end of this article to get everyone up to speed on what Belmont Park actually means for the Islanders. For me, it means the world.
Long gone are the days of us having to worry about if we’re going to be rooting for the Kansas City Islanders, or if we have to buy new threads for the second rendition of the Quebec Nordiques. Our owners are not frauds who bought the Islanders with only a few thousand dollars in their pockets, nor will they be put in jail for any kind of fraud. There are no more fights with Nassau County over the future of Nassau Coliseum. We no longer have Kate Murray or Ed Mangano crushing our hopes and dreams. No more half empty starts when the team is 15 games under .500 or when the train to the Barclays Center is running 15 minutes late. Best of all, will be NO MORE obstructed view seats.
For any lifelong Islander fan, you no longer feel like an orphan in your own city. You don’t feel like the red-headed stepchild who is often forgotten about even when they’re the best team in town. You finally have a legitimate team with a legitimate arena and legitimate ownership. This is the best day in Islanders history since perhaps they won their last Stanley Cup in 1983, or in more recent memory when they finally broke their playoff losing streak at 23 seasons.
I want to thank so many people for bringing us to this point in just nine short months,. It’s a point I don’t know if the Islanders ever would have gotten to five years ago. I want to thank Charles Wang, who according to Arthur Staple of Newsday mulled over the idea of Belmont after failed attempts at the Lighthouse Project and the referendum. He had the foresight to get Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin on board with bringing the team to Brooklyn and getting Belmont going. I would also like to thank the two co-owners of the Islanders, Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin, along with New York Arena Partrners, who were able to draw up great plans for Belmont Park and who have the best interest of the fans and the residents of Belmont in mind while blueprinting. While Malkin is the silent partner in Europe and is the cash cow of the operation, Jon Ledecky has become one of the most transparent owners in sports and has won the hearts of Islander fans in just a few years.
In addition, I’d also like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Bettman gets a lot of flak for many things, but he’s been key in rallying behind the Islanders in their search for a new arena, and to be completely honest I am a big fan of his self-deprecating humor. Governor Cuomo made the right decision when he chose the New York Arena Partner’s development plan for Belmont, and he’s bringing many jobs to the Belmont area. As he stated in the unveiling today, there will be 10,000+ local union construction jobs available, with 3,100 permanent jobs for all amenities of Belmont Park.
Without these people, the Islanders may have already moved to a different city. It’s been a very long journey, but it’s nice to know that they’ll be back where they belong, Long Island. The Islanders are Long Island’s team, and to have them back home means more to me than just about anything. It still feels like a dream. It’s very real and it’s very exciting. It’s a testament to all these Islander fans who have stuck out all these hard years. You all deserve it.
To give further clarification on some of the questions fans would have when it came to the Belmont proposal, here are some FAQ with answers from today’s conference:
Senator Flaherty committed that the Islanders will work with the LIRR and Nassau County to make Belmont a fully-functional, full-time LIRR stop for all commuters. In addition, there will be 7,500 additional parking spots made that were presented in the proposal.
Commissioner Bettman was asked by Governor Cuomo to consider bringing the Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum for a season or two before Belmont Park is finished. Bettman neither confirmed nor denied that could be the case.
The last and most important question is regarding John Tavares. Will he will re-sign with the Islanders during the season now that he knows they have a permanent home. Some feel he may wait until free agency regardless of this decision. I firmly believe within the next few months they should be working out a deal. Tavares has been nothing but professional throughout, and has stated every step of the way that he wants to remain an Islander for a very long time. He stated yesterday that it’s a great thing that the Islanders are finally coming back home, and he’s excited to be a part of it. If that doesn’t tell you what you need to know, you need to learn how to read between the lines.
Regardless of what questions may still need answers, the biggest question that we needed answered was addressed today. The Islanders are coming home to Long Island in a state of the art building and will be there for at least the next 50 years. Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin are putting $1B of their own money into funding this new state of the art facility. The new Belmont Park will be one for the ages, with entertainment for not only Islander fans but for all patrons of Nassau County. There’s still a long way to go, but for now I’m just happy to be home. I hope you all are too.