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Islanders Make Bid To Leave Brooklyn, Return To Long Island

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The New York Islanders have made a bid to return to Long Island.

The NHL team that moved from Long Island to Brooklyn two years ago submitted a bid with several other partners Thursday to develop a new arena at Belmont Racetrack in Nassau County.

“New York Arena Partners, LLC has submitted a comprehensive proposal to create a world-class sports and entertainment destination at Belmont Park, which we look forward to discussing with the Empire State Development Corporation,” the team said in a statement.

New York Arena Partners includes the owners of the New York Mets and others. The Empire State Development Corp. announced in July it was seeking to develop 36 acres of vacant and underutilized parking lots at the site of the racetrack.

Belmont Park as seen on June 6, 2014 (Credit: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880)

According to Newsday, at least three bidders have submitted proposals for the property. NYCFC, the Major League Soccer team that currently plays its home games at Yankee Stadium, is proposing a soccer-specific stadium that would seat about 26,000, the newspaper reported.

Belmont Park plays host every June to the Belmont Stakes, the final leg in horse racing’s Triple Crown. There are no plans to close the racetrack; the new development would largely be across the street from the track.

The park is about 15 miles from Nassau Coliseum, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.

“I think it’s amazing. I think that they need to be back at home, that’s all,” said fan Pat D’Antonio. “The Islanders belong on Long Island.”

“It’d be a lot more convenient, because I’m a big fan. I used to go to the games all the time,” fan Carly Sweet added. “It’s just a huge hassle to get into Brooklyn all the time.”

The Empire State Development Corp. says it does not comment about the bidding process. There is no timetable for a decision to be made.

The Islanders’ move to Brooklyn’s Barclay’s Center was announced after a failed attempt to secure public financing for a refurbished Nassau Coliseum, which was home to the team from 1972 until 2015.

Fans have expressed displeasure with the Brooklyn move, and the team has a lease with an opt-out clause that could allow it to leave the Barclays Center, home to the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, after the upcoming season.

“Going into Barclays Center is a great place, but it’s hard to get there,” said fan Jim Lennon.

The Islanders played a preseason game this month at the Nassau Coliseum, which has since been refurbished. Seating capacity at the coliseum is now 13,917, less than both the 16,170 it had previously and the 15,795 currently at Barclays Center.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said a return to the old arena was not in the cards.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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