Populous designs new home for the Belmont Stakes in Long Island

An Equestrian Affair

Populous designs new home for the Belmont Stakes in Long Island

The new race track in Elmont, New York is slated for completion in 2026. (Courtesy Populous)

Since 1867, the Belmont Stakes has taken place at myriad locations throughout greater New York. It was first in the Bronx, but then later moved to Elmont, Nassau County, in 1905—a town in Long Island that borders Queens. Then in 1968, Old Belmont Park was replaced by a larger venue designed by Arthur Froehlich.

Now, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Race Association (NYRA) officials are working with Populous to build a new Belmont Park in situ. The project marks the first ground-up racetrack construction in the U.S. in almost forty years.

Aerial view (Courtesy Populous)

Belmont Park has always been an iconic venue where people gather together, and its storied past is rich with trendsetting racing innovation,” said Meg McWilliam, principal and lead designer at Populous. “Working alongside NYRA, Populous is well suited to help deliver their vision for the new Belmont Park, respecting the heritage of the venue while reinventing a world-class experience that is approachable, dynamic and unexpected.”

The existing Belmont Park from 1968 designed by Arthur Froehlich has capacity for 50,000 guests in a structure that’s 1,260 feet long, and 300 feet deep. As many as 90,000 spectators can watch races around the track, however, in recent years fans have been unable to watch from the paddocks due to construction at the adjacent UBS Arena. The forthcoming Populous-designed venue will be able to accommodate an equal amount of visitors within a new 5-story structure perched above the 45-acre infield. It will have an outdoor terrace at level five, capped by a soaring canopy.

The infield (Courtesy Populous)

While the new Belmont Park will have comparable capacity, its seating and suite arrangements will vary in order to accommodate flexible seasonal attendance. Cumulatively, the new Belmont Park will be a 275,000-square-foot structure.

The new facility will have a variety of club and dining spaces, food and beverage outlets, private suites, and a bevy of indoor/outdoor experiences. There will also be a “winterized building” paired with the new racing surfaces that will unlock the opportunity for year-round thoroughbred racing.

Entry (Courtesy Populous)

The construction project has implications for South Ozone Park, Queens. There, NYRA operates Aqueduct Racetrack, another thoroughbred racing facility sited on 110 acres of New York State–owned land. After construction is finished on the new Belmont Park, NYRA will terminate its lease at Aqueduct Racetrack, and transfer all of its downstate operations to the new venue, as required by the 2024 Enacted Budget. Once that happens, the 110-acre site in Queens will be opened up for development.

While construction is underway on the new venue, the 2024 Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will be held at Saratoga Race Course for the first time in its 156-year history.

The new Belmont Park is slated for completion in the third quarter of 2026.