The Islanders’ New Home Won’t Look Like A Spaceship, But It Will Be Out Of This World

New York Islanders/UBS Arena

When new stadiums and arenas are built these days, the design generally reflects the sign of the times.  Not to point out any particularly building that has opened in recent years, but often times the structures don’t necessarily look like a sports venue from the outside.  A lot of them look like magnificent museums, office buildings, high-priced housing, fancy shopping malls….

And do I dare say some of them look like they can transport you to the moon?

“I think a lot of the buildings that are being built are terrific,” said Islanders Co-Owner Jon Ledecky during a recent Sports Business Journal virtual event.  “Many of them look like spaceships.”

But not the Islanders’ new home UBS Arena at Belmont Park that is scheduled to open for the 2021-22 National Hockey League season.  Construction is ongoing and judging from all of the artists renderings before the groundbreaking and how the building is coming along, it’s easy to see that while it’s going to be a state-of-the-art arena for Islanders hockey, concerts, and other events, it’s not going to look like a lot of sports venues that have been built or are currently being built.

It has a look that is unique to the community where it is being built.

“I think that (Islanders Co-Owner) Scott Malkin and the group’s vision was to do something that was a salute to New York,” said Ledecky.  “This building, when you think about it, being built in the middle of a pandemic, being completely privately funded, both the building and the infrastructure around it is being privately funded, it represents a beacon of hope and strength for New York in the future.”

Islanders’ New Home Has A Unique Design: 

Parts of UBS Arena were designed to reflect some great New York landmarks.  Upon walking into the arena, the entrance floor will remind the great terminal and wonderful hall at Grand Central Station while the suites and the clubs will bear a striking resemblance to the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel.   The outside of UBS Arena will look like the old Madison Square Garden with the exterior brickwork serving as a great compliment to the existing look just a few feet away at Belmont Park.

Of course, the arena itself will be a great new home for the Islanders and it will feature a lot of modern amenities for Islanders Country along with some reminders of what the experience was like at Nassau Coliseum.

“There were a lot of design nods that were made,” said Ledecky.  “I think most importantly, it’s built for hockey but made for music so the biggest lowest bowl in the National Hockey League…more fans will be closer to the ice than anywhere else in the National Hockey League.”

What the arena partners, including the Islanders, Oak View Group, and Sterling Project Development, are doing is they are basically “lifting” the lower bowl out of the Nassau Coliseum and bringing it along with great acoustics to UBS Arena.  While that replication will be a positive reminder of the days at “The Barn”, the design of UBS Arena included features that will make Islanders fans forget about some of the negative aspects of the Coliseum.

There won’t be any twenty-minute waits for a cold hot dog.

There won’t be any twenty-five-minute waits to use a bathroom.

What UBS Arena will be is some of the best aspects of the Nassau Coliseum, great characteristics of other great arenas that have recently been built, and some great things that will be unique to the Islanders’ new home that will be the envy of other arenas and teams.

“We were able to build on all of the different great arenas that have been built,” said Ledecky.  “We have in the Wilpon group (Sterling Project Development) and in Tim (Leiweke’s) group (Oak View Group) incredible experts who were able to take the vision and make it a reality.  I think you’re going to see things that will make us the greatest and best building in North America because of the design.”

The Timing Is Right For UBS Arena: 

While it’s not yet known if fans will be able to attend Islanders games at the Nassau Coliseum at any point this coming season, the hope is that with the FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccine as well as the potential for approve of other vaccines very shortly, the UBS Arena will welcome capacity crowds when it opens next fall.  While the sports and entertainment industry has certainly taken a big financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic, there is a lot of optimism around the opening of UBS Arena even though it’s being built in the middle of a pandemic.

Because of the way the arena was designed and because of changes in sanitation technology, the developers have been able to, pardon the hockey term, “change on the fly”, the UBS Arena will be ready to safely welcome back huge crowds when the building opens in time for puck drop next year.

“We’re able to build into our structure these sanitization methods,” said Ledecky.  “Whether its special HVAC, whether its different sanitization attempts in the bathrooms, we got lucky in the middle of this pandemic to have that opportunity and hopefully we’ll be an example of what can be done in an arena.  Many will have to retrofit but we’re being able to do it on a primary basis.”

UBS Arena is going to be magnificent and while it won’t resemble a spaceship like some other new arenas and stadiums, it will look like a true New York landmark on the outside and a great new home to the Islanders, music and other shows on the inside.   The design will certainly help the Islanders “blast-off” into a new era of greatness at their new home office.

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter covers the Islanders for New York 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. Peter spent 8 years as the radio play by play voice for the New York Dragons of the Arena Football League. He was also the radio play by play announcer for the XFL’s NY/NJ Hitmen in 2001 and the radio play by play announcer for the New York Saints of the Major Indoor Lacrosse League from 1993 to 1996.

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