EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — If the Islanders do end up getting an arena at Belmont Park than look no further than the team’s practice facility a few miles down the road for the templet they use to design it.
The team unveiled its’ newly renovated practice facility to the media on Long Island on Tuesday. Islanders ownership spent roughly $7 million to turn Northwell Health Ice Center into a state-of-the-art facility over the summer. Added to the already relatively new practice rink was an entire campus for the team ranging from top of the line medical, fitness and video areas to a brand new team lounge complete with an executive chef.
With the renovation on display, Islanders owner Jon Ledecky used the afternoon to highlight how this is just a peek of what is to come if the team wins the RFP to develop an arena at Belmont Park.
“The quality here is the same kind of quality of excellence that we want to bring to the Belmont Park project,” Ledecky said. “The fact that we were able to get this project done over the course of the summer when a lot of folks said ‘well you won’t be ready in time for the season’ is emblematic of what we could do with Belmont. If we could get that shovel in the ground we can build a world-class facility and we can do it on time and provide the community with something it can be proud of.”
It’s been just over a month since the Islanders, along with Sterling Project Development and the Oak View Group, submitted their bid to develop an arena at Belmont Park. MLS soccer club NYCFC and the Blumenfeld Development Group also submitted bids to develop the state controlled land.
There has been no timetable given by the Empire State Development Corporation, which is handling the request for proposal at the site. Ledecky, who took controlling interest in the Islanders along with Scott Malkin in 2016, said on Tuesday that he was impressed by the way the State of New York has handled the RFP thus far and said it has been put together in a way that leads to “a clear path for the winner.”
The organization, Ledecky said, is also putting itself in a position to be ready as quickly as possible to put a shovel in the ground if they are chosen as the winners.
“That’s the most important thing that we can communicate to the players and the fans,” Ledecky said. “That this is an organization that is thinking ahead and trying to be ready for good results. As I’ve said publicly Belmont is the place the Islanders should have as their home and we’re pretty clear that is the place for us to be playing.”
While the Islanders are hoping the renovations to the practice facility highlight the possibilities that could be in store at Belmont, it’s also another sign of ownerships commitment to the organization. The facilities in East Meadow are worlds apart from what the team had at their old practice facility in Syosset or even what they had at Nassau Coliseum.
The updated digs could also help the franchise in attract free agents when the time comes as well. Ledecky told reporters that he had already heard buzz from other organizations about the upgrades and general manager Garth Snow said the facility sells itself.
“Obviously word of mouth in the small world of hockey it happens fairly quickly. I know our players are very appreciative of the efforts put forth by ownership and the staff to create this environment,” Snow said.
Of course the biggest free agent the Islanders need to win over is John Tavares, who is in the final year of his contract with the team. Snow did not have any updates on contract negotiations between the team and Tavares.