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NY Islanders Bid Selected For Belmont Park Development

Announcement to be made formally Dec. 20 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The state of New York has selected a bid by the NHL franchise Islanders to build an 18,000-seat arena on a 43-acre site at Belmont Park.

The formal announcement is scheduled to be made Dec. 20 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to Newsday, a Long Island newspaper that first reported the selection.

What the plan might mean for the future of Belmont and nearby Aqueduct Racetrack, both of which are operated by the New York Racing Association, is subject to much speculation. There are efforts by some to close Aqueduct and redevelop the lucrative land upon which the track sits in Queens and to turn Belmont into the home of year-round Thoroughbred racing.

Additionally, there has been talk over the months that Yonkers Raceway, a harness track, might be interested in moving its racing operations to Belmont. How that might logistically and politically work is unclear, though it is an idea given a new push this week by the horsemen's group at the harness track, according to a report in The Journal News, a Westchester County newspaper.

The state has been trying for years to develop land it owns at Belmont, much of which has been used as parking during the annual Belmont Stakes (G1). 

The NHL hockey team, which left Long Island and has been playing its home games at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn the past couple of seasons, beat out a bid by Major League Soccer's New York City FC team to build a 26,000-seat soccer stadium at Belmont. 

The Islanders' bid was submitted by New York Arena Partners, a limited liability company whose partners include the hockey team, a development group tied to New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, and a third group whose investors include Madison Square Garden.

The bidding process was run through Cuomo's Empire State Development agency, which oversees economic development programs in New York. In July, the agency announced another request for proposal process for the site, saying a successful bidder will have to show its plans will "maximize" economic benefits to the state, create "premier destinations" for entertainment, retail, and sports "with uses that are complementary to the existing Belmont Park racetrack.''

The property set aside for the new hockey arena borders on the Cross Island Parkway adjacent to the racetrack's grandstand.

A spokesman for Cuomo's office declined to comment.