New York Islanders co-owner Jonathan Ledecky and his would-be development partner Peter Luukko of Oak View Group have revealed exactly where their planned new arena next to Belmont Park racetrack would be, and it’s … next to Belmont Park racetrack, does anyone really care exactly which parcel it is?
More interesting is this:
A full-time LIRR stop at Belmont would be necessary to meet the number of people who would be coming regularly to the arena, Luukko said. Currently, the Belmont LIRR station is used only when horse racing is taking place…
Ledecky said he isn’t concerned about the LIRR’s ability to accommodate such a plan, saying it has been amenable to adding extra trains after games at Barclays Center in response to the crush of people leaving Islanders games at the same time. He also noted how ridership increases on game nights…
LIRR and MTA officials have said as recently as last spring there were no plans to add full service to Belmont.
So, should the cost of adding full-time rail service to a new stadium be counted as a public subsidy? On the one hand, running trains for the public to get where they need to go is exactly what the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is set up to do, and presumably any development on the Belmont site would require increased service. On the other, it’s going to be at least a little bit galling to city transit riders putting up with abysmal service if the Islanders get to jump the line for new expenses just because they want to move from a place that already has tons of public transit to a place that doesn’t.
We’re still really early in the negotiating process, and of course we still have no clue what the financial details of the arena plan will be. This whole train cost thing is something to keep an eye on, though, once we have enough info to start building a cost-benefit spreadsheet.