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Jon Ledecky Sees UBS Arena as Free Agent Recruitment Tool for Isles

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UBS Arena New York Islanders New Home

When UBS Arena opens up this weekend it will be the crown jewel of NHL arenas and mark the first time the New York Islanders have had a state-of-the-art home since Nassau Coliseum opened in 1972.

Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky also sees it as another tool for general manager Lou Lamoriello to lure free agents to Long Island. Back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Semifinals have already made the Islanders a team that free agents want to come and now the brand new arena is an added tool to recruit players.

“The great thing about Lou Lamoriello, here’s a guy that could have built a visitors locker room that stunk,” Ledecky said during an exclusive interview on Hockey Night in New York. “Instead he built a very good visitors locker room because those guys are going to come in and say ‘wow this is a heck of a building. I want hope one day I can be a New York Islander.’ To go from that to the envy of the league, to the envy of the players, New York Islanders players are puffing their chest out saying ‘we’ve got the best building in the National Hockey League.’ Pretty cool.”

Saturday’s home opener will mark the completion of a long and at times arduous journey for the Islanders to get a new building. Construction has been kicked into high gear as the finishing touches are placed on UBS Arena.

Construction workers were still mulling around last week during a media event to announce that Shaq’s Big Chicken brand will be available on the concourse at the new venue. The $1.1 billion arena is expected to host more than 150 events each year and will seat to 17,250 for Islanders games.

The additions of Blue Line Deli and Offside Tavern on the arena concourse were a nod to the input of Islanders fans, but Lamoriello, head coach Barry Trotz and the players had plenty of input as well. Islanders ownership wanted the players to feel as at home as the fans will.

“It’s an incredible campus,” Ledecky said. “I know it’s ready to go and I know it’s great because Lou Lamoriello wants no one going back there anymore, which is a great sign. That means we’re ready to go for next week’s game. But, really having that feedback from the players, including players in meetings in the beginning we showed them sketches and diagrams. (We asked) what would be good for you and how would you like to get to the building and what do you want inside. … It’s great to learn from the other buildings what works and what doesn’t work.”

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