Islanders to return to Long Island at new Belmont Park arena

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ELMONT -

After three seasons of playing in Brooklyn's Barclays Center, the New York Islanders are coming home.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the official announcement Wednesday that the Islanders won the bid for a plan to develop Belmont Park in Elmont.

The plan, a $1 billion investment by Arena Partners, includes an 18,000-seat, year-round arena with 435,000 square feet of retail space, restaurants and a hotel.

The governor says the project will bring 12,300 union construction jobs, as well as 3,100 permanent jobs after the construction is completed.

"Today is a win-win-win," said Gov. Cuomo. "It is a win for the community, it is a big win for the fans, and it is a win for the team. They are going to have their own arena...I believe attendance is going to increase. I believe the passion is going to increase."

PHOTOS: View the renderings of the new Belmont Park arena

NEWS CONFERENCE: See the full remarks at Belmont Park

The investment in Elmont is an influx of money many in the community say they have been hoping to see for years. 

"We're thrilled that the Islanders are back. We're thrilled at the economic situation that the Islanders will bring back to this area," says Julie Marchesella, of the Elmont Chamber of Commerce. 

Billy Joel and Islanders captain John Tavares were on hand for the announcement.

Gov. Cuomo also said that the MTA plans to open the Belmont Long Island Rail Road stop year-round so fans can take the train to the games.

As if that wasn't enough to fire up the fan base, the governor said that a plan is in the works to bring some of their remaining games slated for the Barclays Center to the new Nassau Coliseum.

With the Nassau Coliseum less than 10 miles away from Belmont, some are questioning whether there is enough interest and support to justify two nearby arenas on Long Island. 

"It'll all depend on the quality of the product both arenas put out," says Kevin Law, of the Long Island Association. "If they're both attracting top performers and good sporting and cultural events, then the demand will be there."

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