The ongoing saga surrounding the renovated Nassau Coliseum continued with a new wrinkle.
Naming rights sponsor New York Community Bank is exiting its long-term deal with the arena, Newsday reported. The building has been formally knowns as NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum since it reopened in 2017 after renovations were completed.
Nick Mastroianni II, the new leaseholder for the Nassau Coliseum, allowed NYCB to exit the agreement early, bank officials told the newspaper. The main reason, according to the report, is the uncertainty surrounding the Nassau HUB site.
The future of the Coliseum, as well as the surrounding 77-acres, has come into question once again after Onexim Sports and Entertainment announced they were shutting down the venue in June while they looked for someone to take over the lease. A deal was reached last week between Nassau County and Mastroianni for the Florida-based businessman Mastroianni to take over the lease immediately.
When Onexim, which is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, shuttered the venue in June it raised plenty of questions about where the New York Islanders would play their final season before UBS Arena opens at Belmont Park. Earlier this year, prior to COVID-19, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Islanders would play all playoff games at Nassau Coliseum and the entire 2020-21 season would be played on Long Island.
Nassau County officials remain optimistic that the Islanders will play one more season at the Barn before relocating to UBS Arena for the 2021-22 season. It remains unclear, however, if fans will even be allowed inside arenas when the 2020-21 season starts this winter, whenever that is.
The Islanders called the Coliseum home from 1972 up until 2015. The team relocated to Barclays Center for the 2015-16 season, but began splitting time between the renovated Coliseum and Barclays Center during the 2018-19 NHL season.
Final Steel Beam Raised at Islanders’ 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.
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.
OK #Isles fans, enjoy the view as the final @UBSArena upper ring beam is lowered into place. (The tree on the beam is an old tradition dating back centuries to Scandanavian countries where builders would try to appease spirits displaced during construction). @News12LI pic.twitter.com/f9oDZ5ZDL2
— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) October 9, 2020
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.
"There will be so many great nights here, so many great wins," said #Isles owner Jon Ledecky today on what to expect at @UBSArena. @islessignguy @Offside_Tavern @Bluelinedeli719 @OysterBayBrewin @rdel76 @islesfan808 @Islesfaninmtl @News12LI @K_Dexter pic.twitter.com/oc2cQzvYhi
— Kevin Maher (@KMaherNews12) October 9, 2020
“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.”
Islanders, UBS Arena Announce Sponsorship Deal with Northwell Health
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.
CONFIRMED: Islanders Will Play Next Season at Nassau Coliseum
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.
“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.
“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.