The New York Islanders new arena plan is being met with anticipation among the team’s alumni, as was evidenced during a recent weekend event.
In December, Empire State Development chose a bid from a contingent that includes the Islanders, Oak View Group, and Sterling Project Development to redevelop land at Belmont Park with a new arena and surrounding amenities. The Islanders are aiming to begin construction next spring, with the arena opening in time for the 2021-22 season.
For the Islanders, the opening of the new arena will settle a facility situation that has been uncertain for a few years. After years of trying to renovate or replace Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders moved to Brooklyn’s Barclays Center in 2015, only to become dissatisfied with the hockey experience at the venue. (Barclays Center was originally designed and constructed for the NBA’s Nets when it opened in 2012).
While the new arena will to be a boost to the Islanders’ roster at the time that it opens, many of the franchise’s former players are expressing their support for a plan. During this past weekend’s alumni weekend, the upcoming Belmont Park arena received plenty of attention for its planned amenities as well its intimate seating bowl that will resemble the Coliseum. More from Newsday:
“I think it’s amazing, and I think that’s exactly what this franchise needs,” [Clark] Gillies said of the new arena, some details of which were shared with the alumni at a luncheon in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon.
One tidbit: The Islanders’ “campus,” including the dressing room, medical facilities and such, will cover 23,000 square feet.
More importantly, they were told the seating bowl itself will be intimate, and reminiscent of a certain arena where the team used to play — and soon will again on an interim basis.
“They want that small group and want to do it like the Coliseum, with the noise, the passion of the people,” said Richie Hansen, who grew up and still lives in Northport and played 18 games as an Islander in the late ’70s. “They want to bring that back. How could you not like it as a player?”
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