It seems that is all but set in stone that the New York Islanders will begin the 2021-22 season on the road as construction on UBS Arena, their new home at Belmont Park, is completed in the fall.
Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello had been the latest team official to discuss the idea during his final media availability of the season. UBS Arena is expected to open in the fall, but not until November, which would be well after the 2021-22 season’s targeted start date.
“I do expect us to be on the road at the beginning of the year,” Lamoriello said. “We have not seen our schedule, but we are fortunate in this area that there are other teams — whether it be the Rangers or the Devils or the Flyers or the Bruins — that are in a proximity. And that even though we would go on a western road trip, coming home it wouldn’t be as taxing to our players and their families if we are to play a considerable amount of time away from the arena until it is ready.
“That is our intention.”
Lamoriello also classified the potential opening date to UBS Arena as a “moving target.”
Lamoriello also squashed any hope that the Islanders could play preseason games at the Nassau Coliseum when next season begins. He told reporters on Tuesday’s conference call that home preseason games would take place at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport.
Construction on the new arena has been ongoing since the Islanders broke ground in September of 2019. Construction was halted on March 27, 2020, because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, but it resumed two months later and no significant time was lost on completion of the project.
The Islanders announced on June 21 that they had sold out of season tickets for the team’s inaugural season at UBS Arena.
The $1.1 billion arena is part of a larger redevelopment project at Belmont Park. It will also include a shopping and entertainment district, hotel and community space as part of the full development of the aging state land.