UBS announced an exclusive, 20-year naming rights agreement with Belmont Park Arena, the new home of the New York Islanders. Located at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y., UBS Arena is still expected to open for the 2021-22 National Hockey League season despite a two-month pause in construction due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though reports claim UBS will pay the team a minimum of $275 million over the course of two decades.
“This is just another major piece of the foundation of the Islanders, of the arena at Belmont, and Long Island and the whole New York metropolitan area moving forward,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during a virtual press conference. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the Islanders, this arena and the NHL associated with UBS. For Islanders fans, this is just another indication that while it’s been a long and winding road, the best is yet to come.”
Added Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky: “For 40 years we’ve been seeking a brand new home and now we have it. We’re going to take that energy form the (Nassau) Coliseum and transfer it over to the UBS Arena.”
The venue, which will host more than 150 annual events, is the centerpiece of a $1.5 billion redevelopment project privately funded by New York Arena Partners, a joint venture among Sterling Equities, the Scott Malkin Group and the Oak View Group, in the area that is expected to generate approximately $25 billion in economic activity, including 10,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs. The project also features an additional $100 million investment in transit and infrastructure enhancements, including the first newly constructed Long Island Railroad station in almost 50 years.
“Even though we had a bit of a pause with the coronavirus pandemic, (UBS) stayed with the vision and felt even stronger with it because this is the most important city in the world, still is and it’s still going to be,” said Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, whose company is also overseeing the $900 million renovation of Key Arena in Seattle. “New York is the center of the universe when it comes to sport and live entertainment. UBS wanted to make a major economic commitment to get New York going again.”
UBS Arena’s interior and exterior will pay homage to classic New York landmarks, including Grand Central Terminal, Prospect Park Boathouse and Park Avenue Armory. The complementing Belmont Park campus will feature 315,000 square feet of luxury retail and a four-star boutique hotel with up to 250 rooms.
The venue itself will hold 17,000 seats for Islanders games and 19,000 for concerts. UBS Arena will feature the highest resolution scoreboard in New York, two outdoor terraces open to all guests, eight bars with views of the ice, a state-of-the-art team training facility, premium offerings including the Spotlight Club, and more restrooms per person than any arena in the metro New York area.
Not only that, but the venue and its construction will provide a much-needed economic injection into the area and its residents as the coronavirus pandemic continues to halt the economy. There is a goal to fill 30% of UBS Arena’s permanent jobs with people from the surrounding area, while 30% of construction dollars will be reserved for state-certified minority and female-owned businesses and 6% will be earmarked for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses.
The venue is being built to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED v4) standards for building design and construction, while UBS Arena is working with the same sustainability experts consulted on the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle—which will be the first net zero carbon-certified arena in the world—to minimize the environmental impact of the venue in order to become a zero-waste facility, while utilizing renewable energy sources and reducing electricity and water consumption.
“They’re helping us to make a long-term pledge where we’re going to be carbon neutral,” Leiweke said. “We’re going to work on solar panels, we’re going to work on getting rid of plastics, we’re going to work on getting to be carbon neutral within a reasonable period of time—it’s a high priority for UBS and a high priority for us.
“We’re spending an enormous amount of time working with the NHL on health and wellness and the safety of all of our clients—hockey and music—when they come into our buildings.”
UBS will have permanent exterior signage, entitlement to the arena’s largest premium private hospitality space as well as prominent logo placement on the roof, center ice and throughout the venue.
Ground was broken on the project on September 23, 2019. Construction was halted on March 27, 2020, as Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a suspension of all non-essential projects due to the coronavirus pandemic; it started back up exactly two months later on May 27.
“We need good news and we’ve got to make people understand we’re going to get through this (pandemic), we’re going to get back on our feet, and the city’s going to get back on its feet,” Leiweke said. “I don’t care what anyone says, when it came time to invest $1.5 billion, there’s no place we said ‘yes’ quicker than New York because it’s the most important city in the world.”