A Suffolk County committee has selected a plan for a 17,500-seat arena in Ronkonkoma, according to a spokesman for the county.
Spokesman Jason Elan said an arena could be part of a “destination concept” that would occupy 40 acres between the Ronkonkoma Long Island Rail Road station and MacArthur Airport.
Elan stressed that the selection of a plan was the first step of the planning process and that community input will be continually sought as the plan moves along.
It is expected to cost $1 billion and will be privately financed, Newsday reported. The winning bid was from Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate developer from Chicago, and Ray Bartoszek, an investment banker.
The partnership that will deliver the plan is JLL/Ronkonkoma Vision Project Team, Elan said. The development could also include two ice rinks, restaurants and medical research space, he said.
“Suffolk County has 1.5 million people [and] they don’t have an indoor concert or sports venue,” John Cameron, whose Cameron Engineering firm will be the lead engineer for the project, told WABC. “Philadelphia is the same population, 1.5 million people, [and] they have football, basketball, hockey and baseball.”
Cameron told WABC that he had been contacted by a sports league, but declined to say which one. The New York Islanders of the National Hockey League are leaving Brooklyn but are already locked into a new arena to be built at Belmont Park. Other New York teams might be unwilling to move to Ronkonkoma, which is almost 60 miles east of New York City.
It also remains to be seen how the Suffolk arena would affect the Nassau Coliseum, which is about 30 miles from Ronkonkoma. Despite having the Islanders scheduled to play several games there in the future, the arena is without a major-league tenant and could compete with the Suffolk arena for concerts and other events.
Attempts to reach NYCB Live, which operates the Coliseum, were unavailing.