Having The Islanders Will Be Music To The Ears Of UBS Arena

When a new stadium or arena is built, the desire for the building management is to fill as many dates in the building as possible.  In a normal non-pandemic world, Madison Square Garden knows it has a combined 82 dates each year for Knicks and Rangers home games as well as college basketball, other sports, and concerts.  MetLife Stadium is locked into twenty Jets and Giants pre-season and regular season games each year and that is supplemented by other football games, soccer matches, and a handful of concerts.

And then there are buildings that have just one primary professional sports tenant like Barclays Center with the Brooklyn Nets, the Prudential Center with the New Jersey Devils, along with Yankee Stadium and Citi Field with 81 regular season home dates each for the Yankees and Mets respectively.   For those facilities with just one primary tenant, the challenge is to have as much content as possible to avoid “dark nights” when there are no events scheduled.   The objective is to drive revenue with a variety of other sporting events and shows to supplement the dates that the primary tenant fills and to also give the community as many entertainment options as possible.

When UBS Arena at Belmont Park opens in the fall of 2021, the primary tenant will be the New York Islanders and although they are the only sports franchise locked in at this point, that’s a good thing for business.

Islanders Give UBS A One-Team Advantage: 

“Actually, I think the one team is an advantage,” said Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke during a Sports Business Journal virtual event last week.  “We picked a good team.  It’s an emerging team.  If you look at the job that Lou Lamoriello, Barry Trotz and the Islanders’ hockey team have done, they’ve immediately turned this team into a contender and the were literally one shot away from forcing a seventh game for the Eastern Conference Finals and anything could have happened.”

Oak View Group is a partner with the Islanders and Sterling Project Development on the construction of UBS Arena and the company’s job will be to manage the building and fill as many dates as possible when the Islanders aren’t on the ice.   The building is already locked into 41 Islanders regular season games, exhibition contests and potential Stanley Cup Playoff games, but that’s just the start for filling out the annual calendar for UBS Arena.

The building actually will benefit from having just one primary sports franchise.

“What we need (are) dates for concerts,” said Leiweke.  “What we need, at the end of the day, is we need to have enough dates and enough capacity to be able to pump a lot of other activity into the building.”

UBS Arena Designed With Hockey And Music In Mind: 

UBS Arena is being built specifically for Islanders hockey but the building is also being designed to give it a leg up on the other arenas in the marketplace in terms of attracting artists to fill dates.  The arena is going to have production, load in/load out, and lower bowl capacity features that will create a better bottom line for the artists who perform there.  In other words, an artist will make more money doing a show at UBS Arena than at any other arena in the New York area.

Oak View Group is going to utilize their relationship with OVG board member Irving Azoff, the former CEO of MSG Entertainment, as well as their relationship with Live Nation, the world’s leading live entertainment company, to make sure that the chants of “Let’s Go Islanders!” are supplemented by the sounds of the most popular artists and family shows that will have UBS Arena as a desired stop on their tours.  The arena will be a great home for music because of the production, artist compound, and rigging features.

“We’re going to get more content and we’re going to get more activity,” said Leiweke.  “We’ll have fifty (or) sixty nights of music, we’ll do basketball, we’ll do other sporting events like WWE, UFC, or boxing but we obviously have the crown jewel with the Islanders.”

The Islanders’ long and winding journey towards finally having a new home will end next fall when they move into UBS Arena.  It will be a great facility for hockey but it will also be a fantastic venue for concerts.  So, while the building will be rocking to the roar of the crowd when the Islanders are on the ice, there will also be the excitement of great concerts and other events.

Anyone else hoping that the first concert will be Billy Joel?

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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