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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + FAQ (pinned post)

The Islanders are leaving for Belmont, a privately-financed "economic engine" (+ just $40M lease)

At the press conference
The Bridge yesterday published my The Islanders Say Bye to Brooklyn, But Where Next?, rounding up the news about the new Belmont arena and the question marks over where the hockey team will play during its fifth season (and perhaps longer), during which the arena will be constructed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo--as did Borough President Eric Adams--supports having at least some games at the undersized Nassau Coliseum, closer to the fan base. The operators of Barclays and the Coliseum, Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment (BS&E), cordially said the same thing.

Such a move helps BS&E, operators of the Coliseum, but doesn't erase question marks over that venue's longer-term future. (As I wrote, while Barclays would shed an onerous financial arrangement, replacing those Islanders dates with other events isn't simple.)

An "economic engine"?

Cuomo at the press event yesterday at Belmont hailed a new hockey-centric arena accessible by public transit, noting that the parking lots at Belmont were "this great asset that has been underutilized for years." He called it a "win-win-win" and predicted attendance would increase, as noted in the video below.

"This will be more than an arena," Islanders' co-owner Jon Ledecky stated. "This site will be the home of economic development." National Hockey League President Gary Bettman declared that "it will be an economic engine for this area."

Indeed, there will be retail and a hotel, but that rhetoric echoes that regarding the Barclays Center and the Atlantic Yards project and there are question marks, as I noted, regarding the job total, the projected new tax revenue, and the competition with Nassau Coliseum. (Similarly, the custom jerseys for Cuomo and Billy Joel echoed those custom Nets jerseys for Gov. George Pataki and Jay-Z.)

The project will be "privately funded," atypical in non-New York sports venue deals, but that also requires looking closer for governmental assistance. There will be payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), perhaps to allow tax-exempt financing, and new Long Island Rail Road service. And there will be rent.

A $40 million payment

Islanders Say New Arena Will Be Privately Financed, declared the New York Times, without mentioning that the New York Arena Partners--the Islanders owners and others--bid just $40 million for the right to lease (and redevelop) up to 43 acres of property over 49 years.

What does $40 million mean? Empire State Development told me that "$40 million is the upfront value over the term of the lease for the build out of the full project."
Newsday's coverage did mention the $40 million, but the cover emphasized that it "will be privately funded."

We don't know the only rival bid, but that number seems low. Author and journalist Neil deMause, noted for his Field of Schemes blog analyzing sports facility deals, commented, "I believe the technical economics term is 'craptastic.'" He further compared

That $40 million, which did appear in the state press release (below), didn't appear in the Selection Committee Recommendation (also below):
After a thorough review and evaluation process, the Belmont Park Redevelopment Selection Committee has conditionally designated the New York Arena Partners (“NYAP”) to redevelop up to 43 acres of property owned by the Franchise Oversight Board (“FOB”) at Belmont Park, located at 2150 Hempstead Turnpike Elmont, NY 11003, on two parking lots identified as Site A and Site B (collectively, the “Sites”). NYAP proposes to build a mixed-use entertainment complex that will include an approximately 60,000-square foot, 18,000-seat multi-use arena that will be home to the New York Islanders; a 435,000-square foot retail, dining and entertainment village; a 193,000-square foot hotel; and 10,000 square feet of offices and parking (see Proposed Site Plan attached). The proposed project and any contractual documentation remain subject to all public approval processes as required by law, including but not limited to review by the ESD Directors.
Some reaction

Newsday expressed optimism before the decision, declaring Make Belmont a crown jewel, adding, "If the state can develop Belmont into an economic success story, bring the Islanders home, and create a year-round mass transit hub, that would be quite the hat trick."

The New York Daily News, however, suggested that Cuomo should've moved the Aqueduct racetrack to Belmont, freeing up land at Aqueduct for new housing and a new community. That "would have been so much more significant than a third home for a slippery hockey club." (The newspaper has long suggested that Aqueduct should move to Belmont, such as in this 2013 editorial.)

Some renderings (from the Governor's Flickr page)



  1. Makes you wonder if anyone crunched the numbers. Looks like everyone involved is so emotionally invested. Cuomo wants that big project under his resume at any cost, Dolan wants to crush the Coliseum and Barclays Center at any cost, Ledecky and Gary Bettman seem to have a hockey inferiority complex, the Wilpons, who knows what they are thinking?. Even with free rent how will they pay off the $1B?. As you mentioned a lot of the problems with Atlantic Yards are a result of rosy economic projections. Barclays center is #1 or #2 arena in the US based on ticket sales and it still doesnt make the numbers it projected. In this case it doesnt even look like anyone made any economic projections. Cuomo just said " I believe the attendance will increase" pure emotional economics. Will creditors lend them? Are they celebrating too soon?

    1. Agreed that we could use a much broader economic analysis, both of this deal and the impact on rival arenas.


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