Officials break ground on new Islanders arena at Belmont Park
An official groundbreaking ceremony took place Monday for the new Islanders arena at Belmont Park.
It marks the end to the Islanders' long search for a place they can call home on Long Island. The project has technically been less than two years in the making, but in reality, it took decades to finalize following years of false starts and frustrating stops.
The state agency that coordinated the process, Empire State Development, said pre-construction work began at the site in August when the project was officially approved.
The project is expected to cost $1.3 billion and take 26 months to build, making it ready for the 2021-22 NHL season. Empire State Development says the project will result in 10,000 construction jobs and 3,200 full-time jobs.
Besides the new 19,000-seat arena, the project includes upscale shops, restaurants and a hotel on the vacant property at Belmont Park.
"It shows that Nassau County is not the land of 'no,' but we are in the business of building for the future. We can build great things," says Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.
In the meantime, the Islanders announced at the ceremony that seven regular season games this season are being moved from the Barclays Center to the Nassau Coliseum.
The Belmont Park Community Coalition says it has joined several other civic groups in a lawsuit and petition to halt the project.
The complaint argues in part that the developers have "misappropriated Belmont Park for its private use."
In a statement to News 12 it says, "The State of New York plans to take up a major redevelopment project for our community. Unfortunately, the state has chosen to ignore the surrounding communities and our concerns about the current redevelopment proposal."
Earlier this month, the village of Floral Park filed a lawsuit to block the redevelopment project. Among the major concerns is an increase in traffic and crime.