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Franchise Oversight Board approves Belmont project

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The state Franchise Oversight Board today approved its lease agreement with Empire State Development for the construction of a hockey arena at Belmont Park.

The plans include a 19,000-seat arena for the New York Islander’s National Hockey League Team, a 250-room hotel, a community center, commercial office space and 350,000 square feet of retail space on the land that the oversight board currently owns. It is expected to produce 10,000 construction jobs, and officials for Empire State Development, the developers behind the project, said it would “generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax dollars and create billions of dollars in economic activity.”

It also includes a payment in lieu of taxes agreement under which New York Arena Partners would pay $40 million to various municipalities. The PILOT would last throughout ESD’s lease for the arena, and for 20 years for a proposed hotel and 15 years for retail stores at the arena. An estimated $154 million would go to the Elmont and Sewanhaka school districts over almost 50 years, and the state would make at least $1 million per year from rent payments based on attendance.

The entire cost of the lease and construction would be funded by New York Arena Partners, which has agreed to pay $1.3 billion toward the project.

The Franchise Oversight Board’s approval comes less than a week since the Empire State Development board approved the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act and Urban Development Corporation Act findings, and enables construction on the project to begin soon.