While the New York Islanders put the finishing touches on their brand new building at Belmont Park, the Bridgeport Islanders have already completed renovations to the team and artist dressing rooms and other behind-the-scenes areas at Webster Bank Arena.
It is part of the phased approach that the organization is taking to renovate the venue, which turns 20 next weekend. The Bridgeport Islanders locker room was expanded and additional locker rooms were added for tournaments and amateur teams that play at Webster Bank Arena from time to time.
The work was completed in time for the AHL Islanders season, as well as the New York Islanders’ three preseason games in Connecticut beginning on Saturday.
“There’s been a ton that we’ve been doing to the arena in anticipation for the Bridgeport Islanders season,” Bridgeport’s president of business operations Brent Rossi told NYI Hockey Now during a phone interview. “It’s really started working with the city over the last couple of years to get a lease extension done, which we’ve come to an agreement with. As part of it is a complete renovation of the back of house
“From a locker room perspective, the New York Islanders will be coming into a facility that I think could be up there with some of the best NHL facilities.”
Work on the locker room and other back-of-house areas, including adding what Rossi described as a “star suite” for music acts, had been underway for the last four to five months. Renovations on the rest of the building will be done in a phased approach which will be done over the next three to five years, Rossi said.
In August the Bridgeport City Council approved a deal that would keep the Bridgeport Islanders in the city for the next 10 seasons, which put an end to speculation that the AHL club could be headed for Long Island. As part of the agreement, the city is kicking in $28 million to help return Webster Bank Arena to “like-new” condition.
Similar to comments over the summer when the AHL club changed its name from the Sound Tigers to Islanders, Rossi told NYI Hockey there had never been much doubt about where the team would be playing.
“Our ownership group is very committed to this area,” Rossi said. “We wanted to stay in Bridgeport and we knew we would get something done. It wasn’t really the if as it was just the when, but it is nice that now we’re able to move forward and start the next phase of our relationship with the city and with our venue.”
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