After a contentious run in Brooklyn, the New York Islanders are poised to return to Nassau County in a new arena.
The Islanders' proposal for an arena to be constructed next to the Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont has been selected as the winning bid, according to Newsday and multiple reports. A formal announcement featuring Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is expected Wednesday.
The Islanders were vying with New York City FC of Major League Soccer to develop the area around the racetrack, with the soccer team hoping to build a 26,000-seat open-air stadium. Another group also had submitted a proposal to Empire State Development in September.
The Islanders will be able to begin their project: an 18,000-seat arena that would host around 150 events each year, as well as a hotel, a retail village and a 10,000-square-foot "innovation center" that will be developed with the community.
The team is partnering with Sterling Project Development -- run by the Wilpon family, which owns the New York Mets -- and Oak View Group, which is also spearheading the redevelopment of KeyArena in Seattle for potential NHL expansion.
Belmont Park racetrack, which opened in 1905, runs thoroughbred meets from April through July and then in September through October.
The Islanders relocated from Nassau Coliseum to Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015. The move was met with immediate resistance from Islanders fans, as the arena wasn't built for hockey -- hundreds of seats had obstructed views of the ice, and the scoreboard above the rink was off-center.
Capacity for hockey in Brooklyn is 15,795, the second-smallest in the NHL.
Both Barclays Center and the Islanders have opt-out clauses in their contract, although speculation is that the Islanders would play there until a new building is ready.
Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky has said that there was no "Plan B" if the Belmont bid failed, putting the future of the franchise in doubt. Currently, Seattle, Houston and Quebec City are all seeking NHL teams for relocation.
The winning Belmont bid gives the Islanders a new home and some much-needed clarity about their future -- a necessity in their contract negotiations with superstar John Tavares, who will be a free agent next summer.