Arena Executive Expects Full Capacity For Islanders UBS Arena Opener This Fall

New York Islanders/UBS Arena

Right now, the Islanders are allowed to welcome 1,400 fans to home games at Nassau Coliseum as per New York State COVID-19 guidelines that permit 10 percent of capacity for indoor arenas.  On May 19th, that number will increase to 25 percent capacity so should the Islanders qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, they could then have a capacity of about 3,480 fans for home postseason games.  Depending on how far the Islanders advance in the playoffs, there is always the possibility that the number could go up, but there’s a bigger question being asked in Islanders Country…

What is the expected percentage of capacity going to be when UBS Arena at Belmont Park opens this fall?

“100 percent,” said Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke during a media tour of UBS Arena on Thursday.

UBS Arena is scheduled to open in November and will seat approximately 17,000 for Islanders games along with concerts in the round and 19,000 for standing concerts.   Opening night is still more than six months away, but for there to be 100 percent capacity at that point, the coronavirus situation in New York State would have to get to the point where the guidelines would allow that to happen.  Governor Andrew Cuomo reported on Friday that the positivity rate in New York State was 2.03 percent, down from 2.06 percent on Wednesday which was the lowest since November 5th.

So, things are trending in the right direction.

“I have great admiration for this administration’s commitment to get every focused on (masks) and vaccines,” said Leiweke.  “We believe that eventually that will get us to a point where we cold reopen and get back to our lives.  We think by the fall when we open the building, we’ll be at full capacity.”

There is reason to be optimistic about a full house at UBS Arena this fall.

As of Friday, 43.4 percent of New York State residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 30.2 percent have completed their vaccine series.   If the numbers continue to improve, both the positivity rate and the number of people who get vaccinated, the chances of 17,000 excited Islanders fans on hand for opening night at UBS Arena will only get better.

There’s a long way between now and then, but there’s only one number that is being thought of right now in terms of capacity…

100 percent.

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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