After going between Nassau Coliseum and the Barclays Center, the New York Islanders finally have an arena of their own. The team played their first two games in the brand new UBS Arena in Belmont, Long Island over the weekend. Although the Islanders recently hit a rough patch with their quality of play and injuries, the opening of this arena has created a ton of excitement for the fanbase. With the arena now officially ready for action, here’s a look inside UBS Arena.
Built For the Fans
With the exception of what is sure to be the most ignored sign in state history enforcing no honking and no tailgating rules, this project was made with the Islanders fan base in mind. A large part of this is exemplified in the stadium’s concession options. Blue Line Deli and Bagels, a local Islanders themed deli, was given their very own spot in this stadium. Owner Donald Rosner also got to collaborate with Shaquille O’Neal’s fried chicken brand for a signature sandwich aptly titled “The Islander”. In addition, the stadium includes The Offside Tavern, a city bar that was a very popular gathering spot for the Islanders fanbase. The tavern was forced to close its doors in 2020 due to complications from the pandemic. But now, UBS Arena has brought this location back by giving them a stand up bar in the arena.
The interior design of the arena really emphasizes how much the fans were taken into account. The lower concourse specifically has several homages to the history and fanbase. It features 15 plaques dedicated to the 15 legendary Islanders enshrined in the franchise hall of fame. Just ahead is a wall listing the names of the inaugural season ticket holders and a mural dedicated to the Islanders fanbase. Within the arena itself there’s a wall dedicated to several Islanders meetup groups, right above the infamous blue and orange army in section 329.
Other Arena Amenities
One of the worst parts of the Nassau Coliseum was the tight space in the concourse area. UBS Arena offers more space in the concourse area and has two floors compared to the coliseum’s one. There’s a wide array of concessions for fans, a lot of which offer grab and go options which helps move lines faster. There are also eight bars located around the arena, some of which offer a view of the ice. The team store at this arena is one of the nicer ones as well, although the line to get in opening weekend was painfully long.
Another upgrade in this arena when compared to prior arenas is the scoreboard. The scoreboard at Nassau Coliseum wasn’t that big, and the scoreboard at Barclays Center was hilariously off centered. According to Daktronics, the scoreboard at UBS Arena is four times larger than the one at Nassau Coliseum and is the largest, highest resolution scoreboard in the state (and yes, it is at center ice). Speaking of technological upgrades, the arena has an on-ice projection capability similar to the one at T-Mobile Arena.
The Down Side
There’s not much to complain about with this arena, but there are a few flaws. For one, the traffic when driving in is absolute madness. If you’re taking the trip to this arena and plan on driving, leave as early as possible. The parking lots aren’t much fun either, especially with the cheaper Emerald lot located away from the arena location. Depending on the lot you park in, getting out could be a bit of lengthy hassle much like it was after a game at the coliseum. Also, the infamous long bathroom lines are still very much an issue at the stadium. The only difference is it’s easier to walk around the line with the more spacious concourse area.
As a whole, UBS Arena is everything fans could have hoped for from an arena. The best way to describe it is a hybrid between the Nassau Coliseum and Barclays Center. It’s an upgrade that’s been long overdue and absolutely blows away the facilities at the Nassau Coliseum. But yet, the intimacy and acoustics of the coliseum isn’t lost at all within the confines of this new arena. Even Barry Trotz noted after the first game that the level of crowd noise on the ice felt just like it was at the coliseum. And that’s what truly makes this arena great, it’s the overwhelming focus they put on the fan experience. The interior design makes the fans feel welcome and there’s plenty of great fan experiences. There’s an outdoor bar on the second level that feels more like a night club than a bar at a hockey game. In addition, they have a bar/restaurant that is often open for pregame and postgame enjoyment.
This location is a genuinely fun place for fans to come gather and watch the game. The arena’s only flaws mainly have to do with traveling to the location. But even that will improve once full west and east bound train service is complete for the arena. All in all, UBS Arena is the perfect upgrade to the Nassau Coliseum the fans have been eagerly waiting for. The Islanders now have an up to date, permanent home location that fans and team will get to enjoy for years to come.
Featured image courtesy of Getty Images
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