Inside the Islanders’ new arena, built for the COVID-19 era

    Greg Wyshynski is ESPN’s senior NHL writer.

ELMONT, N.Y. — New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz surveyed the skeletal confines of UBS Arena, scheduled to open in November as his team’s new home.

He could tell the sight lines around the rink would be good. His suggestions on how to make the arena more player-friendly had been implemented. But it was a large terrace in the upper deck, located behind one of the goals, that caught his attention.

“They’ve got the end zone there that’s going to have a European [stadium] touch. Hopefully they’ll have the flags [surrounding] the big bar where the fans can stand and watch,” Trotz said.

That terrace overlooking the ice is one of 10 bars planned for UBS Arena, the centerpiece of a $1.5 billion construction project that’s ongoing in Elmont, New York. Anyone with a ticket to an Islanders game can stand, mingle and cavort as the players skate below them. Another bar terrace has a view of an entirely different sports terrain: the grassy paddock area at Belmont Park racetrack, which is located directly next to the Islanders’ new arena and inspired many of its aesthetics.

“Everything that you see at the UBS Arena is designed to fit into the historic facade of the Belmont Park racetrack,” said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, the firm that’s overseeing construction of the arena. “We wanted to honor the history and tradition of it, and the last 100 years of sports and culture in New York.

“[NHL commissioner] Gary Bettman’s fondest dream is to have a Stanley Cup game in the afternoon, and then have the Belmont Stakes after it.”

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