Islanders play opening game in new UBS Arena

NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Islanders’ long wait is finally over.

Almost four years after winning the tender to build a new home next to Belmont Park, the Islanders opened the doors to UBS Arena on Saturday night. The Calgary Flames were the Islanders’ first home opponent this season after the team spent the first five and a half weeks of the season playing 13 road games.

“It’s a beautiful building,” said Lonny Lehman, a first season pass holder from East Meadow, New York, a short drive from the Coliseum. “(I can’t wait to) have a home again. … It has been a long time coming. Our politicians have let us down. Fortunately our new owners have kept us here and they are going to have a good following.

The Flames won 5-2, spoiling the new arena’s debut.

The $ 1.1 billion building is the culmination of a campaign started more than a decade ago by former Islanders owner Charles Wang. First came the lighthouse project proposed in 2007 which was part of the redevelopment plan, but went nowhere. Then voters in Nassau County rejected an attempt to secure public funding for a new arena four years later, and the unpopular move to Brooklyn in 2015 finally saw the team split the home games between the Barclays Center. and the Coliseum.

Now the new arena is here and the years of uncertainty over the team’s future are over.

Lehman also congratulated Islanders owners Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky, saying, “They are fantastic. I wish they owned the Jets (New York NFL).”

Tickets for the home opening were sold out months in advance and there was a waiting list for season tickets. Vendors were posting $ 230 opening game tickets to the cheapest seats in the area at over $ 800 on hours before the puck dropped.

The UBS Arena has a capacity of 17,250 seats, more than the 13,917 in the renovated Coliseum and the 15,795 in the Barclays Center.

“It’s awesome,” said Jason Saltsberg. “It’s certainly a lot more luxurious than the Colosseum was. Everything is going in the right direction. As soon as they announced the arena the team seemed to pass the milestone and everything is happening at the same time and it’s fantastic.

The Islanders went 5-6-2 in their first road game, including four straight losses. Twenty-five of their next 36 games will be at home, and they won’t play more than two consecutive road games until a four-game trip Jan. 4-11.

“Hopefully they can bring the Cup home,” said Holly Baratta, who bought season tickets for the final Coliseum season but couldn’t use them due to limited seating sitting due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The players had the chance to practice on the ice at the new rink on Thursday and were impressed.

“It really blew me away,” said Mathew Barzal of the Islanders. “I walked right in, saw the gymnasium, saw the dining hall and couldn’t wait to see more. The whole facility and rink and the way it was laid out was so upscale. … We are a really lucky bunch.


Freelance writer Scott Charles contributed to this report.


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