September 23, 2019, is just another ordinary day on the calendar. But now it will go down as a landmark moment in the history of the New York Islanders.
Earlier today, Isles owner Jon Ledecky, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and other dignitaries finally put the proverbial shovel in the ground for the future state-of-the-art home for the franchise and the official start to the re-development of Belmont Park. There were also several members of the Isles organization in attendance, including president and general manager Lou Lamoriello, head coach Barry Trotz, and captain Anders Lee.
“The Islanders belong on Long Island – and today we start building the state-of-the-art home this team and their fans deserve while generating thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity for the region’s economy,” said Cuomo.
“With seven more Islanders games at the Coliseum this season, fans will have even more opportunities to see their favorite team and generate momentum for the move to their new home in two years. At the end of the day, this project is about building on two great Long Island traditions – Belmont Park and the Islanders – and making them greater than ever.”
It still doesn’t seem real, but Isles fans got their first glimpse at their future home, one that will be about them and for them. That’s why this moment is so important to everyone who bleeds blue and orange.
“The arena is carefully designed for hockey fans. Every seat will have great sightlines,” Empire State Development acting commissioner Eric Gertler said. “The arena will be about you, the fans. you will remain the focus of the team and every detail will be crafted to ensure you have the possible experience.”
Isles fans — some for a very long time and some a whole lifetime — have deserved a building befitting of the passion and love they have for the franchise, one that represents them as Long Islanders. They’ve been kicked around for so long and have witnessed their once-proud franchise be used as a political football and the butt-end of decades-long jokes.
This quote from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman: pic.twitter.com/kwuH0Sjj8K
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) September 23, 2019
Not anymore. With that shovel in the ground, the questions, uncertainty, and the long-term stability of the franchise are no longer in doubt.
“It’s always been our obligation to do right by the fans,” Islanders owner Jon Ledecky said. “And that’s what this arena is about… All of you here will hopefully remember this day. We can’t wait for the first puck to be dropped for the 2021-22 Islanders season.”
Ledecky is right. Everyone will remember this day. Because, just like when both Trotz and Lamoriello were brought in a month apart in the spring of 2018, today’s groundbreaking ranks right up there as a game-changer for the franchise.
The new arena at Belmont is not slated to open until the 2021-22 season, but the party has already started and it won’t be ending anytime soon.
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