New York Islanders owner Charles Wang and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano unveiled plans Wednesday for a new Islanders hockey arena that does not include a casino, though officials said talks will continue with the Southampton tribe for sited at Belmont Park.
In addition to negotiations for Belmont, a 430-acre equestrian race track in Elmont, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy is pursuing a Shinnecock casino at county-owned land in Yaphank.
"The Shinnecock Nation has always made clear that we are ready to partner with communities that want to partner with us, in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, as we pursue economic opportunities for our people that also provide jobs for our neighbors," Shinnecock Tribal Trustees Chairman Randy King said in a statement Wednesday. "We welcome the support from Nassau County Executive Mangano and Senators [Dean] Skelos and [Jack] Martins. We are prepared to discuss siting a facility at Belmont with the state, the local community and all the stakeholders there."
With recently published reports saying a Shinnecock casino deal with Nassau was imminent, Wednesday's press conference at Nassau Coliseum with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Islanders owner Charles Wang appeared to be the big announcement. However, Wang instead unveiled a plan to replace the aging coliseum with a new facility located next to it that does not include Shinnecock gaming.
The plan comes eight years after Wang hatched the Lighthouse Project in an effort to save the Islanders from extinction. The scaled-back pitch also has the backing of Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, whose appearance at the press conference marked a huge shift in the dynamic between the Islanders and town officials. Murray and other Hempstead pols never warmed to the Lighthouse, which at one point included the tallest building on Long Island, a hotel, offices, residential units and a conference center.
The new proposal will only move forward if Nassau County residents approve $400 million in bonds. That vote takes place on Aug. 1. Mangano said the Islanders would pay the county back in full.
David Reich-Hale contributed to this report.