12/19/2017 11:42AM

Choice to develop property at Belmont Park to be revealed Wednesday


A press conference will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Belmont Park, at which time Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce which of two bids has been selected to redevelop underutilized property at the track, a source familiar with the event told Daily Racing Form.

The press conference, first reported by Newsday, will be held in the Turf and Field Club at Belmont Park.

In September, two groups - one representing the New York Islanders of the NHL and another representing the New York City Football Club of Major League Soccer - submitted bids to the Empire State Development Corporation to redevelop 36 acres of underutilized property at Belmont Park. Empire State Development Corporation put out a request for proposals in July to develop the property on the western part of the facility that is closest to the Cross Island Parkway as well as property on the south side of Hempstead Turnpike. The latter property is primarily a parking lot that, aside from Belmont Stakes Day, is largely used to house cars for auto dealerships.

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New York Arena Partners, which includes representatives of the Islanders, Madison Square Garden, and the New York Mets, wants to construct an 18,000-seat arena for the Islanders, who currently play at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. That plan also includes 435,000 square feet of retail and dining space as well as a 200- to 250-room hotel.

The Islanders played at Nassau Coliseum, about 10 miles from Belmont Park, for 43 years before moving to Brooklyn in 2015. The Islanders are scheduled to play at Barclays through 2018-19.

New York City Football Club and Related Partners wants to construct a 26,000-seat open-air soccer stadium for the Major League Soccer team, which currently plays its home games at Yankee Stadium. That plan also includes 400,000 square feet for dining and retail as well as 5.2 acres for a community park and two acres dedicated to small soccer fields to be used by the local community.

Though the two groups submitted their plans in late September, it wasn’t until Dec. 10 that they were formally presented to the public at a listening session held at Elmont High School.

Representatives of both plans emphasized they hope the public would use mass transit to attend games and other events held at their venues. There is a Long Island Rail Road stop at Belmont Park, which most likely would need to undergo further renovation to accommodate increased usage.

A spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corp. declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for the New York Racing Association.

It is unclear how the construction of an arena or stadium would impact racing at Belmont Park. Earlier this year, however, NYRA constructed a second turf course at Aqueduct, which presumably would enable it to keep a healthy schedule of turf racing in the event more dates needed to be held at Aqueduct.

In 2018, Belmont conducts a 54-day spring-summer meet from April 27 through July 15, and a 36-day fall meet from Sept. 7 through Oct. 28.