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Belmont Park redevelopment plan details released at hearing

The New York Islanders want to turn it into a sports center, while New York City FC eyes the Elmont site for its professional soccer team.

On Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017, details were revealed for the first time of the Islanders' and NYCFC's proposals to build stadiums at Belmont. (Credit: Newsday / Jim Baumbach)

The New York Islanders and New York City FC released details of competing proposals Sunday to redevelop Belmont Park in Elmont with both vowing to hire locally for some of the thousands of predicted jobs and pledging to set aside space for community use.

The Islanders’ proposal includes an 18,000-seat, year-round arena that would host 150 events annually, as well as 435,000 square feet of space for retail, a hotel with 200 to 250 rooms, and a 10,000 square-foot “innovation center” that would be developed with input from residents.

NYCFC, a professional soccer team partially owned by the Yankees, is calling for a 26,000-seat open-air stadium in addition to 400,000 square-feet of space for retail, a 5.2-acre community park and a 2-acre soccer facility.

The hearing at Elmont Memorial High School represented the first time the teams’ ownership groups publicly released specifics about the bids to redevelop 43 acres of state-owned land that both previously submitted to Empire State Development.

Five of the area’s elected officials hosted the meeting. It included a question-and-answer session with a moderator reading pre-submitted queries from an audience of about 200.

Before the session, about 20 people protested development plans, saying they want education, research or technology centers built that would bring high-paying jobs to the area.

Both teams’ plans call for opening the Long Island Rail Road’s Belmont Park station year-round. The teams would build north of Hempstead Turnpike, adjacent to the train station.

The Islanders partners include Sterling Project Development, a real estate firm run by the Mets’ Wilpon family, and Oak View Group, an arena development company partially funded by Madison Square Garden.

“We are very thoughtful developers and we don’t build and then move on,” said Richard Browne, managing partner for Sterling. “We build where we live and we keep on with it and manage our property like we manage our homes.”

Both would incorporate outlet stores into their retail components, according to the proposals. Neither presentation included costs or financing.

“We’ve been looking for a soccer stadium for four years now and we’re very excited to be working with Related Companies to propose our ideas at this site,” said Jon Stemp, NYCFC chief infrastructure officer, referring to the lead developer of the soccer team’s plan.

The Islanders expect to bring more than 5,500 temporary construction jobs to the site with 2,000 full-time, permanent, year-round jobs. NYCFC said it would need 4,500 temporary construction jobs and have 1,600 direct and indirect jobs through retail and the soccer stadium.

After an audience member asked whether the hockey and soccer teams could share the site, both sides agreed it wasn’t feasible. Although the site has plenty of acreage, representatives for both teams said putting them at the same location would mean additional development and create more opposition.

NYCFC has played the majority of its Major League Soccer home games at Yankee Stadium since it started play two years ago.

The soccer club is also actively seeking a New York City location for its stadium, while Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky has said “we have blinders on for Belmont.”

The Islanders have until January to opt-out of their 25-year lease with Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

Legislators in Nassau and Suffolk counties would prefer that the Islanders return “home” to the Nassau Coliseum, though NHL officials have said that is not a possibility.

A third bidder, Syosset-based Blumenfeld Development Group, announced last week that it was withdrawing its bid to redevelop Belmont, citing the state’s “extraordinary requirements” that “appear to create a selection process that has been predetermined.”

ESD has provided no timeline for its decision.

THE BELMONT PARK PROPOSALS

New York Islanders

  • Includes a year-round arena, an entertainment district, a hotel, a retail area and a community space
  • The community space could include sports fields and community centers
  • More than 5,500 temporary construction jobs, as well as about 2,000 full-time, year-round jobs

New York City FC

  • A 26,000-seat open-air soccer stadium on the north side of Hempstead Turnpike adjacent to the LIRR station.
  • A pedestrian bridge across Hempstead Turnpike would link the stadium to a 400,000 square foot retail and entertainment facility, 1,500 parking spaces, a 5.2-acre park and a soccer facility, according to their presentation.
  • At least 4,500 construction jobs and 1,600 jobs from the stadium and retail facilities.

Neither proposal included costs or financing.

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