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Islanders spoke to Mets about new arena next to Citi Field, source says

New York Islanders partners Scott Malkin, left, and

New York Islanders partners Scott Malkin, left, and Jon Ledecky, right, pose for a photo opportunity during a press conference at Nassau Coliseum on Oct. 22, 2014 in Uniondale. Credit: Getty Images / Bruce Bennett

The new controlling owners of the Islanders have had conversations with the Wilpons, the majority owners of the Mets, about building an arena for the hockey team next to Citi Field in Queens, two people familiar with the situation said.

The news — first reported by Bloomberg earlier Thursday — comes just one week after Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said he is committed to staying in Brooklyn long-term after an admittedly rocky first year at Barclays Center.

Ledecky and partner Scott Malkin took over control of the Islanders from Charles Wang on July 1.

A spokesman for the Mets and Sterling Equities, the Mets’ parent company, declined to comment.

Wang announced in 2012 that the Islanders were headed to Brooklyn after failing to secure a new Nassau Coliseum. Multiple sources have said the Islanders and Barclays Center both have opt-out clauses in their 25-year license agreement that, if triggered, would lead to the Islanders’ exit after their fourth season in Brooklyn.

The sources said the area around Citi Field — known as Willets Point — is one of multiple options the Islanders are considering as potential alternatives to Barclays Center. Malkin and Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon are said to know each other through previous real estate projects, the sources said.

In 2010, the Wilpons and Wang discussed the possibility of building a hockey arena in the parking lot next to Citi Field, where Shea Stadium used to stand.

Barclays Center spokesman Barry Baum said: “Last week Jon Ledecky told the media and later fans at a town hall event that ‘Barclays is our home.’ If you have any further questions, please call Islanders ownership.”

An Islanders spokesman said on Thursday the team “will not comment on rumors and speculation.”

Ledecky said last week in his first public address to reporters as Islanders co-owner that while he is committed to Barclays Center as the team’s long-term home, he also expects the arena management to continue to make improvements.

“There were challenges last year,” Ledecky said. “I would be lying to you if I said there wasn’t. Does that mean you blow up Barclays Center and leave? No. You try to improve the home you have.”

Ledecky cited players’ complaints about the ice surface and fans’ criticisms about the atmosphere. He also wants the arena to have more of an Islanders feel.

Barclays Center is the NHL’s second-smallest arena, with a capacity of 15,795, including about 1,500 obstructed-view seats. The Islanders’ agreement with Barclays Center also is unusual in that the arena pays the team an annual fee in exchange for control of the team’s marketing and business operations.

In the past, Belmont Park has been considered by the Islanders as a site for a new arena. Empire State Development has yet to pick a winner on the state-owned land that went up for bid in 2012, and a spokesman has declined to provide a timeline.

The Wilpons won the development rights to the 62-acre Willets Point in 2013, but the $3 billion project has been stalled by a lawsuit by civic groups that argues that some of the land is technically considered parkland.

Attorneys for the Wilpons cite a 1961 law that set aside land in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park for “any purpose” that benefits the public, including a stadium. The case is now before the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

A spokesman for Marathon Strategies, which represents Wilpon’s Queens Development Group, did not respond to a request for comment.

New York Sports