The construction of the Belmont arena, which will be the official home to the New York Islanders come 2022, is already underway. Even though many local elected officials and residents who live and work nearby the arena have their concerns about such a large-scale project that will be in their backyard, Islanders majority owner Jon Ledecky is optimistic about the Belmont arena and the redevelopment of the area.
“We are now transforming Belmont,” Ledecky said when he addressed the Jericho Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting in February.
“We’re taking 43 acres of parking lots and we’re turning them into the premiere sports and music destination on Long Island. So the Islanders are one home team and music is the other home team. On the musical side, our partner in the development of Belmont is the Oak View Group led by Tim Leiweke.”
Leiweke used to run Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), which owned the Los Angeles Kings, the Los Angeles Galaxy, part of the Los Angeles Lakers, as well as multiple sporting and entertainment venues around the world, such as the StubHub Center and the O2 Arena in London. Leiweke also had a hand in running the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. American entertainment executive Irving Azoff has also partnered with Ledecky.
“The list of musical acts that we will have at Belmont will knock your socks off,” Ledecky said. “We love the fact that Jim Dolan is so supportive of our move and what he has done for our franchise quietly. He has given us permission first to move to Brooklyn and he had to give us the permission as part of the territory to move to Belmont. So behind the scenes the Dolan family has been so committed to Long Island. They deserve a round of applause for what they did for the Islanders.”
Ledecky said that the Belmont arena will be the best arena ever built.
“We’re going to have the first third-generation arena in American history,” Ledecky explained. “This arena will be unbelievable from a technology standpoint. Of course, the entire arena will be 5G and adjacent to it will have a 250-room hotel and across the street and highway, there will be a retail village.”
The so-called retail village will not be a shopping mall or be similar to a Woodbury Commons, Ledecky explained.
“Scott Malkin has gone 13 times around the world and built these retail villages where a family or a group outing of young ladies can come and spend an entire day by not only shopping, but enjoy the best food in the area and other aspects,” Ledecky said.
Malkin is the founder of Value Retail Plc and is also co-owner of the Islanders.
“Forty-five percent of our hockey fans are women, but for the 55 percent who don’t want to go to the game, but want to be part of their families, can go and have that shopping experience while the rest of the family goes to the Islanders game,” Ledecky said. “It’s very important for us to stress is that the arena is [being built] on time, which is fabulous.”
The majority owner of the team also said the Belmont Arena will include facial recognition technology, which will remember people’s orders at kiosks.
Ledecky attributed the nice weather that the area has been having lately to having the Belmont arena be built without delay.
“The steel is up,” he said. “You can go on our website and look, and we’re ready to go. So how do we get you out off the couch and to Belmont? That’s what we’re solving for. We have to make the experience at Belmont Park arena—not just in the arena, but outside the arena with many things that we will be having going on at this part we’re building next to the arena.”
Ledecky continued to say that he’s happy to be assisted by the government for a dedicated Elmont train station that will be going in both directions on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR). Express trains from Grand Central Station and Penn Station for people working in the city and coming back home will also be provided.
“That will be about a 31 minute journey express wise,” Ledecky said. “We’ll have trains coming the other direction as well. So we’re going to be making sure that there’s that type of transportation. Those of you who work in the city, but want to go to a game should park at Belmont. Take the train and go to work and then see the game when coming back home.”
Ledecky said that they’re also committed to hiring locally for all the construction and full-time jobs.
“Over the next two years, we’re going to be creating 10,000 jobs and generate $2.7 billion in economic activity,” he said. “When the all the projects are fully done in 2024, we’ll have 3,200 new full time jobs and this leads to tens of millions of dollars in tax revenue for Nassau County, the state, the MTA and Town of Hempstead.”