Islanders New Home UBS Arena Continues To Take Shape

Tom Kaminski/WCBS Chopper 880

After falling just a bit short of winning the Stanley Cup in the bubble, the Islanders, led by President/General Manager Lou Lamoriello and Head Coach Barry Trotz, are working towards the 2020-21 season and tweaking the roster in order to make another run at the 5th championship in team history.  But while the hard work continues towards the on-ice product for next season, there is another part of the Islanders’ future that continues to take shape and that is the team’s new home, UBS Arena at Belmont Park, that is currently under construction.

Last week, the construction reached a major milestone with a topping-off ceremony as the final beam was raised and placed into position.

“It’s incredible how fast the building is going up,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee during a Zoom meeting with reporters on Monday. “Kudos to the crews out there and to the people that are putting that hard work in to get that done for our organization and fans.  It’s going to be a special spot.”

The Roof At The Islanders New Arena Is Almost Done: 

The arena, scheduled to open for the 2021-22 National Hockey League season, is part of a $1.5 billion project with surrounding redevelopment.  The roof of the Islanders’ new home is expected to be completed within a couple of months and some of the brickwork for the arena’s exterior is already in place.   Season ticket and suite sales are reported to be strong for the Islanders’ inaugural season at UBS Arena and the excitement has been building as the fans can see the progress in photos and a webcam on-line or perhaps even by driving by the site along Hempstead Turnpike in Elmont.

Finding a new permanent home on Long Island has been a long time coming for the Islanders and Islanders Country.

“This is all about the fans and this arena is being built for them,” said Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky at last week’s topping-off ceremony.  “We have an obligation to always do what’s right for the fans and Long Island and that’s what UBS Arena is all about.  Protecting and growing this franchise for the future while building up the community for generations to come.  UBS Arena will truly stand as a beacon of strength, hope, resilience, achievement and community.”

Just think about the arena saga that the Islanders have endured over the years.

Whether it was attempts like the failed “Lighthouse” project or the referendum for a new arena to be built right next to the Nassau Coliseum that was voted down by Nassau County residents, the Islanders’ search for a new home on Long Island constantly hit roadblocks and came up short.  With no other options, the Islanders moved to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season, but that turned out to be just a short-term solution.

But a year from now, the Islanders are expected to be playing at their new 17,000 seat home.

“(It’s) an absolute pleasure and delight to see the progress that has been made on this magnificent arena,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman who has long been a proponent of the Islanders having a new home on Long Island.

The Long Wait For The Isles And Their Fans Is Almost Over: 

It’s quite clear that without the patience of Bettman and the NHL as well as the vision of former owner Charles Wang, who passed away in October 2018 and was actually shown the Belmont site before he sold the team to Ledecky and Scott Malkin, the Islanders probably wouldn’t even have moved to Brooklyn.  The only other option would have been a complete relocation of the Islanders to another market.

But the drama is over and the Islanders are now back on Long Island full-time with one more year left at Nassau Coliseum.  After returning to “The Barn” on a part-time basis in December of 2018, the Islanders will play the 2020-21 season in Uniondale before making the 7.3 mile move west down Hempstead Turnpike to UBS Arena.

“It’s an exciting time for the Islanders with Belmont,” said Lamoriello.  “It’s going to be just an outstanding facility.  Our players are excited about it and having one more year at the Coliseum…there’s an excitement there.”

So, here’s a Hollywood script that the Islanders and their fans hope could come true…win the Stanley Cup in the final season of the Nassau Coliseum and raise the banner on opening night at UBS Arena.

“We’re all going to enjoy the heck out of the Coliseum and try to give it another phenomenal ride and see where it goes,” said Lee.  “Belmont is right around the corner and that’s exciting.”

After the Islanders’ incredible playoff run this past summer and into fall, there’s a lot of excitement around the franchise.  The immediate focus is building the roster for the coming season, hopefully with fans at Nassau Coliseum, and contending for a championship.  But there’s more excitement building, literally and figuratively, in Elmont at Belmont Park where UBS Arena is being built.

After all the years of the arena saga, the waiting is almost over.

One. More. Year.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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