Long Island Is Getting Its Soul Back

Jake Melkun | USA

It was recently announced that the New York Islanders have won the proposal to build an 18,000 seat hockey arena on parts of Belmont Park, a horse racing track in Elmont, NY. The victory means that after two years of playing in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the Isles are coming back home to Nassau County where they played for the first 43 years of their life.

Why is the management of the Islanders and the fanbase so eager to get out of Brooklyn? The Islanders played in the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY for the beginning of their franchise. The entire fan base is in Long Island, but in 2012 after the Lighthouse Project was declined by the Town of Hempstead, the former owner Charles Wang decided to move the team to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn since there wasn’t a long-term arena solution in Long Island.

The people of Long Island were not happy. For many people living in Nassau County, the Coliseum was only a 5 minute drive or 20 minute walk to get to a world-class hockey team’s game. Now, for a Long Islander to get to Brooklyn it’s either sitting in two hours of world famous New York traffic plus another $50 to park your car, or a drive to the LIRR station, transfer at Jamaica, then a walk down through Brooklyn (which isn’t known to be the safest at night) to the arena. When people were getting home at 1 o’clock in the morning from a game they would usually get home at 10:30 from, people weren’t very happy. The Barclays Center isn’t a good hockey arena itself at all, either. The sightlines are bad, the scoreboard isn’t even over center ice, and the arena obviously was designed for basketball.

But now, thankfully, the proposal for the new Islanders arena at Belmont has been selected over an NYCFC soccer stadium. The taxes probably won’t even be affected in the area. The new Islanders owner Jon Ledecky has said, “We’re not looking for any government funds”, which means that the project is expected to be completely privately funded.

Now that the Islanders are returning to Nassau County, the move will bring back money to the Nassau County economy. The Isles will fill their own gap that they left for tourism and the local economy that generated millions of dollars for LI. Brooklyn can do without the Islanders, but Nassau can’t.

The day was a victory for both the fans of the NY Islanders and the taxpayers of Long Island.