ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Just in time for the Islanders‘ first game in their new home, the Long Island Rail Road on Tuesday opened its first new station in 50 years, adjacent to the new UBS Arena and Belmont Park.
CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan was on hand for the historic moment in Elmont.
Next stop, Belmont. And Sparky, the Isles’ mascot, was waiting.
“We want fans to take the most sustainable way to come to a game,” Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said.
It is the LIRR’s first newly built station in half a century, and fans will be packing it Saturday when the Islanders open their new arena against the Calgary Flames.
“This was a commitment made to have this done in time for what we all call the puck drop,” MTA Acting Chairman Janno Lieber said.
A dream pre-COVID was built on time and on budget during the pandemic.
“I’m so excited for the current players today,” Islanders four-time Stanley Cup champion John Tonelli said.
CBS2 was with some of the Islanders legends during construction. Their retired numbers will be raised — again — on Saturday.
“We can’t wait to rock this place on Saturday and every game,” one fan said.
“I’m a longtime Islander fan. I saw all four cups,” another said.
Now fans can take the train eastbound into Elmont.
“It’s going to be incredible for every fan just to have that train to take,” Bay Shore fan Patrick Dowd said.
The LIRR says the trip to Elmont from Penn Station will take 34 minutes. Electric shuttle buses will transport fans to the arena, and next summer to Belmont Park.
There will be no westbound service until next summer, so after the game riders will be shuttled to the old Belmont racetrack station for a train to Jamaica, or on a free shuttle bus from the arena to Queens Village. That has angered some who are worried about crowding local streets with extra shuttle buses, McLogan reported.
The MTA is asking for patience until the station is fully ready in both directions.
“We all know how bad traffic is on Long Island and everybody’s concerned about it,” said Islanders fan Amy Zaun of West Hempstead. “Having a mass transit option is huge.”
And there are other positives to come, including a hotel and retail village.
“In the Elmont community, we are excited about economic development. This train station is going to raise property values,” state Assembly member Michaelle Solages said.