BY JAMES FARRELL
Two New York sports teams are vying for the opportunity to redevelop the area around Belmont Park in Nassau County’s town of Elmont, with both plans including a new sports arena and retail and community open space.
The two organizations—the New York City Football Club (NYCFC) and New York Islanders—publicly unveiled their respective visions for the space for the first time during a town hall meeting at Elmont High School on Dec. 10.
Belmont Park currently houses a 1.3-million-square-foot grandstand that houses the Belmont Stakes horse races as well as a Long Island Rail Road station that is active only during events.
The football club—which is partly owned by the Yankees and has played all of its home games in Yankee Stadium since its inception in 2015—is proposing a 26,000-seat soccer stadium, along with 400,000 square feet of retail development and a five-acre community park, with an additional two acres devoted to a soccer facility. The project is being proposed in conjunction with the real estate firm Related Companies.
The stadium and retail component would be built in the northern half of the park, near the LIRR station, while the public space would be located on the southern end. Officials at the meeting said that they envision a “pedestrian-oriented complex” with a pedestrian bridge over Hempstead Turnpike.
“All of our soccer clubs are rooted in their communities,” said John Stemp, NYCFC chief infrastructure officer. “We’re responsible tenants, we’re responsible neighbors and we’re caring community participants.”
NYCFC estimates that the project will generate 4,500 jobs during construction and an additional 1,600 jobs “associated with the retail component of the plan as well as with the stadium and its operations.”
NYCFC has been looking for a home since it was created, with many reports suggesting that Willets Point could be a feasible location.
The Islanders, in partnership with Sterling Project Development—a firm associated with the Mets’ owners, the Wilpon family—are proposing an 18,000-seat arena located north of Hempstead Turnpike, buffered by retail and pedestrian promenades. The proposal also includes a hotel and a community space south of Hempstead Turnpike for which the developers expect the community to create programming.
“The arena will be the new home for the Islanders, and it will be a world-class venue for both music concerts and family shows as well,” said one official from the group associated with the Islanders. “This allows the site to be active year round and it also allows a wide range of people to visit throughout the year.”
The Islanders’ proposal is expected to generate 5,500 construction jobs and 2,000 full-time, permanent, year-round jobs after completion.
Both proposals suggest opening the LIRR station year round and provide additional parking.
The Empire State Development Corp. will choose between the two proposals, but there is no precise timeline as to when a winner will be announced.
Regardless of which proposal is chosen, the eventual developer will likely face significant community pushback. According to reports, before the meeting, dozens of residents protested both proposals, hoping for development that could bring higher-paying jobs to the area.
Reach James Farrell at (718) 357-7400 x 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @farrellj329.