NEW YORK (WFAN) — Is the Islanders’ arena saga finally over?
WFAN’s Craig Carton says it soon will be, as he dropped a bombshell during Thursday morning’s show, saying he has learned the team has decided to relocate to a yet-to-be-constructed arena at Belmont Park down the road.
“Barring a last-ditch change, because like I said this is not 100 percent … they are dotting I’s and crossing T’s … there will be a new arena built on the Belmont Park track site that will house the Islanders in the future,” Carton said.
Where the arena will be located, who will get the contract to build it, how much it will cost, and who will pay for it are questions that need to be answered, but Carton said from what he understands, from the Islanders’ perspective, the decision to move came down to three locations — the renovated Nassau Coliseum, the area around Citi Field and Belmont, which has been rumored for some time now as a potential landing spot for the Islanders.
Of course, the state will have something to say about all of this as it recently was said to be working to finalize a new request for proposals to develop Belmont Park. The state will ultimately decide who, if anyone, will get the land.
After spending their first 43 years of existence at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders have played their home games the last two seasons at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. However, the arrangement has been viewed as temporary, despite the fact that the team signed a 25-year lease. There have been numerous issues with the building, which was not built with hockey in mind, that have led many to believe the Islanders or the arena would opt out of the lease over the next few years. The team can leave after next season, while Barclays can terminate the deal after the 2018-19 season.
The team and arena had been reportedly discussing ways to amend the lease, something they were legally bound to do before either side could opt out. The parties had 30 days after the Islanders’ season ended to trigger the negotiations. New York’s 2016-17 campaign ended on April 9 after it failed to make the playoffs.
In addition to the possibility that the situation in Brooklyn could somehow be salvaged, the team has reportedly been wooed by Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, which runs both Barclays Center and the new Coliseum, to return to its former home off Hempstead Turnpike. However, the feeling of many has been that the team would not be interested, given the revamped-yet-downsized arena’s issues creating revenue when compared to the New York City market, which an arena at Belmont Park would straddle.
To hear Carton break down everything he has learned, please click on the audio player below.