The Islanders have officially been granted the right to build their new 18,000-seat arena at Belmont Park, according to Empire State Development.
The ESD explained their selection process in their statement with certain criteria needing to be met for both the Islanders and their competition -- New York City FC. The most important were the "Overall Project" and "Project Design and Timing," which each counted for 30 percent of the selection score. The overall financial offer and development experience counted for 20 percent and 10 percent respectively.
According to ESD, the Islanders group -- Sterling Project Development (ran by the Mets' Wilpon family) and Oak View Group (funded by Madison Square Garden) -- scored the highest in the evaulation process. ESD believes this proposal will bring the most economic benefit to the area.
The Isles' plan consists of an 18,000-seat, year-round arena that would be host to about 150 events each year, according to Jim Baumbach and Stefanie Dazio of Newsday. Along with the arena, 435,000 square feet would be available for retail as well as a hotel and 10,000 square-foot "innovation center." This center will be built with input from residents in the area.
NYCFC planned for a slightly larger arena, with 26,000 seats as well as 400,000 square feets for retails. They also want to add a 5.2-acre community park and a 2-acre soccer facility on the grounds.
The Islanders plan on re-opening of the Long Island Rail Road's Belmont Park station stop with their arena being adjacent to the LIRR station.
Sterling managing partner Richard Browne said the Isles' development project won't just be a hit-and-run. They want to get this one perfect for the fans.
"We are very thoughtful developers and we don't build and then move on," Browne said. "We build where we live and we keep on with it and manage our property like we manage our homes."
The next step for the Islanders will be to figure out their lease agreement with their current tenant -- Barclays Center. They have until January to opt-out of their 25-year lease.
Dec. 19 -- This is a seminal moment for this franchise. It's the moment we as Islanders fans have deserved for decades. And now, it's finally here. We are getting a world class facility of our own, right here on Long Island, to call home.
I can't tell you what this means to me. As a boy who sat with his father at 25 games a year in the Coliseum while Milstein and Gluckstern were trying to cut the payroll to $5 million, while nearly trading Ziggy Palffy to the Rangers, all in the hopes of blackmailing the County into a new arena, it feels surreal. For the young man who forced himself to learn far too much about the Town of Hempstead's zoning requirements, it feels unbelievable. For the father who is pumped to take his son to Islanders games on Long Island for years to come, it feels like a miracle.
The nightmare is over. The battle is won. We'll learn more over the next few days and years as this project forges ahead, but for now, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you, Mr. Ledecky and Mr. Malkin.