SUFFOLK COUNTY, Long Island (WABC) -- Suffolk County has selected a $1 billion development proposal for a piece of property between Long Island MacArthur Airport and the LIRR Ronkonkoma station.
The development, which is being called KO South, includes a 17,500-seat arena, a 300-500 bed hotel, retail stores, sports medical research facilities, medical offices, two community ice rinks, wellness and recreation areas and STEM/STEAM learning spaces for local students.
"Suffolk County has 1.5 million people. They don't have an indoor concert or sports venue. City of Philadelphia is the same population, 1.5 million people, they have football, basketball, hockey and baseball," said John Cameron of Cameron Engineering, the lead engineer for the project.
Suffolk County said the proposal was selected after two years of community input from multiple local civic organizations, a PTA and even a local fire department. A spokesperson for the county said the size of the arena is not set in stone and could end up being much less - around 8,000 seats.
"It's a long time coming," said Holbrook resident Jim Sokolowski. "Suffolk county has been a growing community for a long time so it's something we need."
Developers estimate that the arena area will bring in $590 million annually to the county and will create 5,300 permanent jobs.
"This is entirely tax positive. There is no residential here," Cameron said. "This is an economic engine. A catalyst for growth."
Maureen Schwab of Lake Grove said she's concerned about what the development will do to traffic around the Ronkonkoma train station.
"I think for people coming to the train and stuff it might be a problem getting in and out especially if there's a game on," she said.
Cameron said they are developing a traffic plan in order to minimize traffic in the area.
When asked about potential sports teams which may play at the arena, Cameron declined to offer specifics but said Monday his firm was contacted by a sports league. He said the arena could be used by not only professional sports teams, but by local college and high school teams as well.
Developers hope to break ground on the project sometime in 2019.