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Construction Restarts On New York Islanders Arena At Belmont Park

Ross Everett
by in NHL on
  • The New York Islanders have been splitting time between the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island.
  • They’re scheduled to play the 2020-2021 season at Nassau Coliseum with their new arena at Belmont Park expected to be ready for the 2021-2022 campaign.
  • The arena at Belmont Park will be a $1.3 billion mixed use arena in Elmont, NY with a hockey capacity of 17,113.

Construction resumed earlier this week on the arena at Belmont Park following a two month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. The arena will be the new home ice of the National Hockey League New York Islanders beginning in the 2021-2022 season. Construction on the $1.3 billion facility in Elmont, New York near the iconic Belmont Park horse track was halted on March 27 as part of the state’s shutdown of ‘non-essential’ construction projects.

Every indication is that the Islanders new home remains on schedule for a 2021-2022 opening despite the two month shutdown. Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky had the construction team standing by waiting for Governor Andrew Cuomo to give the OK to restart:

“The governor has given some indication that selective construction will start up again in some time frame. So we’re ready to go again. We’re working with the contractors. Obviously, the most important thing is that you adhere to social distancing and you make sure the people on site are taking care of themselves. It’s an open-air site, still, so we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to start the construction again when it’s appropriate.”

Construction on the facility began last September and had been ahead of schedule due to a mild winter in New York. That gave them a bit of a cushion when the unanticipated reality of the COVID-19 pandemic shut down construction. Earlier this week, Islanders general manager and president Lou Lamoriello reassured the media that the timeline would not be impacted by the two month shutdown:

“I can confirm that. It’s a great sight that it is happening. The most comfortable feeling is that we were ahead of schedule when this all took place. I do not believe there will be any hiccups as far as the delay of when it’s proposed to be open. And that’s great news.”

The Islanders have been anxious to set down some permanent roots after an ill fated move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-2016 season. The arena had been built primarily for basketball and hockey was clearly an afterthought. There were many obstructed seats and poor sightlines in the new facility including sections 201 to 204 and 228 to 231 which Business Insider called ‘the worst seat in American professional sports’. In addition, the ice at Barclays Center is only marginally good enough for NHL hockey. The facility uses PVC piping instead of steel piping which makes it significantly more difficult to maintain the proper temperature.

Since 2018-2019, the Islanders have split their home games between the Barclays Center and their old home on Long Island, the Nassau Coliseum. The team will now play the 2020-2021 season at Nassau before moving into their new facility for the following season. The COVID-19 pandemic and the NHL’s suspension of the season has brought a sudden end to the Islanders’ time in Brooklyn–not that there were any tears shed. It’ll now go down in history that the Isles final game at the Barclays Center was a 6-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on March 3, 2020.

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