Schwartz: Hypocrites Are Holding Up The Ultimate Celebration Of The Islanders New Arena

In a perfect world, the late Charles Wang would have seen his vision of “The Lighthouse”, a project that would have included the transformation of the Nassau Coliseum into a modern world-class arena for the Islanders.

In a perfect world, when The Lighthouse project didn’t come to fruition, a referendum would have passed that would have seen a new Nassau Coliseum built in the parking lot right next to the current barn. But as we all know, that didn’t happen either.

So, in a perfect world, each and every Islanders fan should be screaming a collective “YES YES YES” chant after the Empire State Development Board approved a $1.3 billion project that includes a brand-new state-of-the-art arena for the Islanders next to Belmont Park. So, after so many years of proposals and disappointments that ultimately resulted in the Islanders moving to Brooklyn, it really looks like the Islanders are finally going to have a new permanent home on Long Island where they belong.

But pardon me for being a party pooper, but I’m not throwing a parade just yet. I honestly do believe this is going to happen, but I’m not going to be jumping for joy until I see that shovel, or multiple shovels, in the ground at a groundbreaking that is scheduled for some time after Labor Day. There are those who are still opposing the project and there is the possibility of lawsuits which is making me pump the brakes on my excitement.

Let me be clear, I honestly think this project is going to happen, but as a resident of Long Island, it’s just amazing to me how projects like this can bring about any kind of negativity. Yeah…let’s keep building strip malls and other shopping centers that constantly have stores going in and out of business. Let’s continue to not have the vision of doing something that will create real jobs and move our community forward.

There hasn’t been a new permanent Long Island Railroad station built in half a century, but this project will have one and will bring people from all over the region to Elmont to shop, eat, and go to events at what will be a spectacular new complex. I heard one person who opposes the project complain that the area wants to see real jobs and not jobs to “sell hot dogs”.

Really? That’s not a real job?

Say that to those people who do that job at any sports and entertainment facility in the NY/NJ area that depends on that job to make a living. And let’s get a reality check here…this project will have lots of real jobs and not just selling hot dogs. There are going to be executive jobs for the arena, hotel, and the retail space. There are going to be many other full and part-time jobs for every single aspect of this project.

Here’s the brass tacks….any job that brings home a paycheck is a real job and this project is going to have a lot of them. The people who oppose this project, in my opinion, are just looking for their 15 minutes of fame and they are hypocrites for a number of reasons…

Many of these people are going to be the first ones at the job fair looking for jobs related to the arena and the collective project. Some of these people are going to clamoring for tickets to events at the arena whether its for Islanders games, concerts, or family shows. And keeping in mind that not everybody in the area likes the Islanders or will want to go to the arena, but you can bet your ass that a lot of residents are going to be lined up at the stores at the complex on Black Friday looking for some sweet deals on holiday gifts.

I also can’t wait for people opposing the complex to be seen at any of the stores or restaurants or even at arena events after trying to derail this privately financed project. You just know that is going to happen!

In my perfect world, the Islanders would never have left the Nassau Coliseum in 2015, but to be fair it just wasn’t an NHL arena anymore and it still isn’t after their part-time return. Barclays Center, as nice as it is, is simply not an NHL arena either so this new arena at Belmont Park is absolutely vital for the Islanders’ future which will become their present during the off-season leading into the arena’s opening.

I’m really excited about the Belmont Park Arena, and I really hope to be at the Islanders’ first game there. But I just can’t do handstands and backflips about it just yet because there are still some hurdles to overcome. I congratulate Islanders owners Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin for all of their hard work to get this project to this approval point. I thank Governor Andrew Cuomo for being such an unbelievable supporter of the project.

I also think Charles Wang is smiling down knowing that all of his years of hard work trying to find a new home for the Islanders is nearing the finish line at Belmont Park.

I just wish there wasn’t opposition to it. It’s silly because it’s about time that Long Island has the vision to move forward and not be stagnant or move backwards.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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