NEW YORK (WFAN) — After doing extensive homework, Jon Ledecky is envisioning the Islanders’ new arena to be on the cutting edge.
The state announced Wednesday that it approved the Islanders’ bid to build a 18,000-seat arena, stores, a hotel and more at Belmont Park.
Ledecky, the Islanders’ majority owner, told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on Thursday, his vision for the new facility was formed after touring all the NHL and NBA arenas in the countries, as well as new football stadiums and facilities in Europe and Asia.
“We’ve been collecting data,” he said. “If you think about the first-generation stadium and then the second-generation stadium, which is really what we’re seeing now, now in the next period of time, we can take all those innovations and put them into one arena.
“We’re trying to build one step function better than the last arena, the Detroit Little Caesars Arena, which is a fabulous place,” Ledecky added. “We want to go one step better.”
Ledecky said he was sincerely committed to making things work in Brooklyn when the team moved there in 2015, but it later became clear to him that the Islanders needed to return to Long Island.
“The fans are our shareholders, so we have to listen to our shareholders,” Ledecky said. “And I kept hearing from the stakeholders, the fans, that this commute was tough. So I started to do it to see whether or not they were just grousing or there were some legitimate concerns.
“It wasn’t the sightlines, because the Barclays Center is a beautiful facility, and (Barclays Center CEO) Brett Yormark and his group there have done an excellent job in their relationship with us. They’ve spent a lot of money making improvements to make a home for the team. It really was a combination, from our perspective, of the fans, No. 1, and then, No. 2, we were a Long Island-centric team. … Our fans are Long Island. Our players live on Long Island. So it just became an insurmountable obstacle to continue to call Barclays Center home.”
Ledecky was reluctant to provide a timeline on when the new arena might be completed, saying factors such as weather, zoning and other requirements could impact construction.
The Islanders have already announced they will remain at Barclays for the 2018-19 season. Ledecky said it will be up to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman where the Isles will play from 2019 until the arena is opened. Ledecky said he just wants what is best for the Islanders and their chances of winning a Stanley Cup, noting the team’s record has been very good at Barclays.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Bettman on Wednesday to allow the Islanders to play some games at Nassau Coliseum, which they called home from 1972 to 2015.