6 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • JANUARY 2022
WELCOMING UBS ARENA
BY JOE PANTORNO
It wasn’t just another pre-practice
huddle on the morning of
Thursday, Nov. 18, for the New
As head coach Barry Trotz directed
the flow of proceedings, he and
his Islanders stood at center ice of
their new home, UBS Arena, for the
first time ever as construction crews
put the finishing touches on the new,
state-of-the-art home of New York
“It was cool. The best I could
describe it to anybody is that it felt
like the Winter Classic, those NHL
series games,” Trotz said at the time.
“It has a different feel. So there’s a
little pep in the step. Getting lost in
it, figuring out every office, every
room. That’s probably what it feels
like, which is good. Those are great
“It absolutely blew me away,” star
center Mathew Barzal added. “The
entire facility and the rink and how
it’s set up is so high-end; I can’t even
tell you how nice it is down here.
We’re a pretty lucky group.”
“The boys are home!” one of the
players yelled from the middle of the
huddle as it broke off into sections of
“We haven’t had a chance to play
a home game yet this year and
you see how much we feed off our
crowd and the impact they have
on us,” Islanders captain Anders
Lee said on Nov. 18. “We’ve seen it
in the playoffs … now we get to be
back in front of them. After that,
you look at it, it’s a brand-new
building that this franchise has
been looking forward to for a long
time … It’s an extremely exciting
time for this organization.
“There’s a lot that’s gone into it. It’s
going to bring a lot of life and I know
that we’re going to feed off that life
from the crowd.”
That home slate starts rather poetically
against a Flames team that they
took on 17,941 days earlier — when
that franchise was in Atlanta — in
what was the Islanders’ first-ever
game as an NHL team at their brandnew
home at the time, the Nassau
“The Coliseum served us well. The
Barclays served us well,” Trotz said.
“The guys on this team the last four,
five years, they built this. It’s helped
that we’ve been a competitive team
the last couple of years and we have
to continue that.”
BY JOE PANTORNO
Jon Ledecky was all smiles as he overlooked the
observation deck near the recently dedicated
seat for veterans of war.
The New York Islanders co-owner has done what
many others before him could not: secure a longterm,
state-of-the-art home for the hockey club while
keeping them in Nassau County.
UBS Arena’s doors opened to the NHL on Nov. 20,
giving fans a first glimpse at the 18,000-seat, $1.1 billion
venue that is strictly dedicated to the Islanders
— something the franchise has not experienced
since the opening of Nassau Coliseum 50 years ago.
The road to get this for the Islanders was arduous
and plenty bumpy. Opposing politicians, the
striking down of the Lighthouse Project, rumors of
moving out of state (whether it be Oklahoma City,
Kansas City or Quebec), and even an ill-fated move
to Brooklyn dotted the past two decades of uncertainty.
But that’s all firmly in the rearview mirror, though
there was just one more little challenge of getting
UBS Arena built during a pandemic after ground
broke on the project in September of 2019.
All the more reason to celebrate the doors opening
“The pandemic, all the different sacrifices that
all of us had to make. For this to rise up and represent
all that America and this area after the pandemic
— what a great symbol of the resilience of
New York, the resilience of the Metropolitan area
and the resilience of our fans,” Ledecky said. “I’m
so excited that we can host the Islanders fans …
where they can have a proper home to watch the
team play. It’s been a long time coming and a lot of
Ledecky, co-owner Scott Malkin and Oak View
Group CEO Tim Leiweke were not just able to keep
the Islanders on Long Island, toeing the Nassau,
Queens border at Belmont Park in Elmont, but they
managed to blend in the Islanders’ history and the
culture of New York.
An expanded arena features a ceiling that is only
3 feet higher than that of the Nassau Coliseum to
ensure that the intimate feel and deafening noise
will be carried over to UBS Arena. Photos of glory
days past adorn the walls, working intricately
with designs that are set to hark back to the old
days of Grand Central Station.
“I want them to appreciate that they’re at home.
This is their home,” Ledecky said. “We built
this with hundreds of feedback points from each
and every fan. We wandered around the Nassau
Coliseum and Barclays Center and took copious
notes on what they wanted.
“They wanted a supporters section, they wanted
to be able to stand and enjoy the game together and
have a meeting place. They gave us details far and
wide, very niche things that we needed to do.”
That’s exactly what they’re getting.
UBS Arena is one of the premier sporting venues
in North America that somehow, some way institutes
everything that the Islanders and their fan
base are about: a blue-collar work ethic, an incurable
passion for hockey and a tight-knit community
that resembles family more than fanaticism.
“Inclusion was the word that our fan base said.
We want everyone to feel like they can participate
and be a part of it,” Ledecky said. “We don’t want
to see corporate suits. We want to be part of the
fans and they can interact with each other whether
they’re buying the best seat in the house or the Bob
Uecker seat last row, the democratization of the
fan base was incredibly important to them.”
blew me away:"
Islanders get first
taste of UBS Arena
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
A look at the ice before the New York Islanders play the Calgary Flames in the first ever hockey game at
Islanders co-owner Ledecky on fans as UBS Arena opens
Courtesy of New York Islanders
Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky