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Nassau Coliseum is Where Isles Should Play Next Season, says Tim Leiweke

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Nassau Coliseum

The New York Islanders are supposed to play their final year at Nassau Coliseum this coming regular season before UBS Arena opens in 2021.

That remains the hope of Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke and the Islanders. That plan has been put into question a bit after Onexim Sports and Entertainment closed the Coliseum down in June and then Nassau County came to an agreement with Nick Mastroianni II to take over the lease last month.

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Oak View Group recently put in a proposal to downsize the Nassau Coliseum after the Islanders move to UBS Arena.

“I hope Nassau works out. That’s where the Islanders should play their games,” Leiweke told amNewYork Metro’s Joe Pantorno during a wide-ranging interview. “At the end of the day, we don’t want to be in a position where Nassau Coliseum’s future use is pitted directly against UBS Arena. It’s a billion-dollar private investment, so hopefully, there’s a way where we can find a solution for everyone and I’m going to leave it at that.”

The $1.5 billion UBS Arena project includes a new building for the Islanders, a retail district, a hotel and a newly constructed LIRR station. NYI Hockey Now was invited down to the Preview Club in Manhattan on Monday and spoke with Leiweke and Islanders owner Jon Ledecky about what the new project will look like.

On Tuesday, Newsday reported that the Islanders ownership had joined Oak View Group in its bid to downsize the Nassau Coliseum into a music-focused venue once the team played out their final year in 2020-21.

Should Oak View Group’s plan be picked by Mastroianni, it would be the third Islanders-related venue they operate. They will run UBS Arena once it opens and they currently run operations at Webster Bank Arena, home of the Islanders AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Oak View Group took over operations of the Connecticut arena in 2019.

“Jon and Scott have been kind enough to back Lou on getting the OVG team in there, too,” Leiweke said in the same amMetro New York interview. “So we have the synergy of our management team at UBS Arena and we put together I think the best management team for an arena I’ve ever seen. They’re also overseeing Bridgeport and they’re working on a long-term vision there. If something happened at Nassau, they’d also be the same team that oversees that.

“We’re very fortunate that we have some of the best executives in the business.”

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Final Steel Beam Raised at Islanders’ UBS Arena

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Final steel beam at UBS Arena

The final steel beam was raised to the top of UBS Arena on Friday during a ceremony at Belmont Park.

The placing of the final beam is another significant milestone for the New York Islanders future home. UBS Arena is expected to be completed in time for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season.

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Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were on hand for the “Topping Off Ceremony.” Islanders alumni Butch Goring, John Tonelli and Clark Gillies were also on hand for the event.

It was just over a year ago that the Islanders broke ground on the site next to the famed horse racing track. The arena is part of a larger development project that will include a hotel, shopping district and community space.

“Since that day last September the construction team has erected thousands of pieces of steel and poured over 27,000 cubic yards of concrete,” Ledecky said on Friday. “I am simply in awe of the work done by the men and women building UBS Arena. This will be our home, but it will always be your legacy.”

Construction on the arena was halted on March 27 as part of a statewide ban on nonessential construction during the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed two months later, but did not have an impact on the completion date.

“This represents a point of normalcy,” Bettman said. “It gives a hope and a prospect to focus on for a future that will be bright. What sports and arenas like this represent is people from diverse communities, diverse backgrounds all coming together in a common rooting sensation. A common goal of being together.  It’s what communities and society is all about together.

“This arena and the progress that’s been made is a beacon of hope that yes construction can continue during a difficult time. This represents what will be a return to normalcy for this area and nothing in a time like this can be more important.”

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Islanders, UBS Arena Announce Sponsorship Deal with Northwell Health

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UBS Arena

The New York Islanders and Northwell Health announced a new 10-year sponsorship deal for UBS Arena that will expand the already existing relationship between the hockey team and healthcare provider. Northwell Health is the team’s official healthcare provider and the title sponsor of the Islanders East Meadow practice facility.

As part of the agreement, the Islanders and Northwell will develop “community-based wellness programming.”

“Northwell has been an invaluable supporter of the New York Islanders for nearly 20 years and we couldn’t be more excited for them to strengthen their partnership with the team through the new UBS Arena project,” Islanders co-owner Jon Ledeck said in a press release.

Northwell will also play a role in helping to keep patrons safe at UBS Arena, which is scheduled to open in 2021, as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

UBS Arena will employ a number of practices to keep staff and patrons safe, which will include contactless technology and industry-leading sanitization technology.

“UBS Arena will be ready to welcome fans back to arenas, ensuring an unrivaled, distinctive live entertainment experience that is reflective of our commitment to unmatched service, safety and sanitization,”  Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said in a press release. “Planned top-of-the-line sanitization efforts from medical-grade HEPA filtration, to UV light systems, and disinfecting solutions that have proven safe and effective in large-scale public spaces will ensure future guests peace of mind.”

In a conversation with NYI Hockey Now last month, Leiweke said that the Islanders had to put extra money into UBS Arena to address sanitization and air filtration inside the venue.

UBS Arena is expected to open in time for the 2021-22 New York Islanders season. The Islanders will play one final year at the Nassau Coliseum before moving to their new home at Belmont Park.

The question remains if fans will be allowed in NHL arenas when the 2020-21 season begins. A start date is unknown at the current time.

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CONFIRMED: Islanders Will Play Next Season at Nassau Coliseum

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If there were any remaining concerns if the New York Islanders would play next season at Nassau Coliseum, you can put them to rest.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed during a Zoom conference call with reporters on Tuesday that the team would play next season at the Nassau Coliseum. There had been some questions if that would still be the case after the former operator of the building, Onexim Sports and Entertainment, closed the venue as they searched for someone to take over the lease with Nassau County.

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“We will definitely be playing at the Coliseum next year. That is a confirmation,” Lamoriello said when asked about the arena situation by NYI Hockey Now.

Earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the Islanders would play their final season before they move into UBS Arena at the Nassau Coliseum. However, the initial closure of the building threw those plans into doubt.

Florida businessman Nick Mastroianni II  struck a deal with Nassau County to take over control of the Nassau Coliseum in August.

At the moment, it’s unclear when exactly the 2020-21 season will start. The NHL had originally targeted December for the start of the new year, but that could be pushed back to January.

Lamoriello did not have any information about when the next season would start or what the plan would be to conduct it. The Islanders general manager was encouraged by the sight of small groups of fans at NFL games in certain cities and he’s holding out hope that the NHL would be able to do something similar.

Nassau Coliseum is Where Isles Should Play Next Season, says Tim Leiweke

“Hopefully sometime in the current year at the Coliseum we will have fans,” Lamoriello said. “It’s great to see when we’re looking at professional football right now depending upon the state that they’re playing in we see the fans in the stands. I read that baseball depending upon different sets of circumstances before the World Series there might be fans there.

“That’s a great sight and it’s a great feeling to see that happening. Hopefully, we can get back to more normal situations for our sports. The most important thing is having everyone safe.”

With the question of where the Islanders will play their final season before they move into UBS Arena answered, there should be a smooth transition into their new home. The excitement surrounding the move into a brand new building has only grown as the project continues at a rapid pace just off the Cross Island Parkway.

Lamoriello said the roof of the arena should be completed within the next few weeks and fans that have already purchased season tickets at the new facility at Belmont Park will begin selecting seats in the next week.

UBS Arena is expected to be open in October of 2021 in time for the start of the 2021-22 NHL season.

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