Fans are finally getting a look at what the New York Islanders’ new home should look like.
Last summer I was able to interview former New York Islanders goalie turned sports talk radio host Rick DiPietro. One of the many things we discussed was the Islanders’ new arena in Belmont Park and the prospects of the team playing on Long Island.
At the time he told me he saw a few plans for it and the arena looked beautiful and would be a place that Islanders fans could take pride in.
Now we can all finally see what the Islanders’ new home will look like, since the team just released some concept artwork. The move to Belmont comes after a failed move to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Barclays had everything from bad sightlines and terrible attendance to a near eviction by their co-tenant the Brooklyn Nets.
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The Islanders had a successful return to Long Island last year, leading some to believe they should just move back to where they began. The team was firm in their push for a new stadium and that might be for the better. Owner of the renovated Nassau Coliseum, now called NYCB Live, announced he was closing the facility until new sponsors can be found.
The new arena will be located right across from the Belmont Park, the famous race track home to the Belmont Stakes. The brick exterior and wood-paneled interior will have the new hockey arena blends in nicely with its horse racing neighbor. With such a historic history next door, I would have thought the design of the new arena might try a little more to tie in horse racing.
Speaking of the brick exterior and wood-paneled interior, I can’t help but be reminded of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, home of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles. When the park opened in 1992, it set off a wave of new stadium construction called “retro-classic” where sports stadiums are built with modern luxury and conveniences, but with the look of their old-time predecessors.
Looking at the renderings for the Belmont Park arena it looks like the Islanders’ new home fits into that category. Compare these pictures to some of the newest NHL arenas, such as the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas or Videotron Centre in Quebec. Personally I think the retro classic look is a welcome change that gives the Islanders arena its own unique identity.
One interesting feature of the renderings is the outdoor bars that the new stadium will have. As much as fans love outdoor bars, remember this is a hockey arena in New York. Even if the NHL moves their season games will be taking place during cold winters. Just how much use will they get out of those outdoor bars? Come playoff time when the weather warms up they’ll be packed but in the middle of December probably not so much.
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The Islanders hope to have their new arena open for the 2021-2022 NHL season. It’s been a long road to finally have their own building, but it might be worth the wait. Then the Islanders can leave their forgettable history in a baseball stadium in Brooklyn behind them.