The New York Islanders NHL ice hockey franchise has taken inspiration from what will be only its second Stadium Series game by unveiling plans for The Park at UBS Arena.
The Islanders have joined forces with healthcare provider Northwell, a team sponsor, along with the New York Racing Association (NYRA) and USA Hockey on what will be a 155,800-square-foot, season-long, outdoor experience that will introduce the first two public pond hockey rinks to the local community.
UBS Arena opened in November 2021 as the new home of the Islanders. Situated within the heart of Belmont Park, the home of NYRA’s historic racecourse, The Park aims to take advantage of this unique setting in a bid to create something special for hockey fans of all ages.
The first rink, named the Northwell Pond, features a sheet of natural ice. It will host a series of 4v4 pond hockey tournaments following USA Hockey guidelines, catering to youth and adult divisions at various competitive levels. The second rink, dubbed the Isles Pond, will host Learn to Skate, Learn to Play, and Try Hockey for Free programmes. Ninety-minute public skate sessions will also be offered on both ponds.
Dan Craig, who was the NHL’s Facilities Operations Manager for 23 years, overseeing the ice for more than 30 NHL outdoor games, will deliver the ponds for the Islanders. The Isles Pond will be constructed using synthetic technology created by Global Synthetic Ice, ensuring season-long accessibility.
Heading outdoors at MetLife Stadium
Set to open on December 27, prior to the Islanders game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, delivery of The Park at UBS Arena comes as the franchise prepares to get its skates on in an outdoor setting once more.
In June, it was announced that MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets, would host two NHL games next February as part of the league’s Stadium Series. The regular-season games will see the New Jersey Devils take on the Philadelphia Flyers on February 17, before the New York Rangers face off against the Islanders the following day.
Next year’s Stadium Series will mark the first time that four NHL teams have played outdoor games at the same venue in front of fans. “The Islanders are proud to be part of this season’s outdoor Stadium Series game and look forward to expanding on this great platform by bringing pond hockey to our backyard,” said Islanders Executive Vice-President, Nick Pizzutello.
“We are excited to give all Islanders fans the opportunity to bring our deep-rooted, pre-game traditions to UBS Arena.”
The pre-game place to be
The offerings at The Park will extend beyond the activities taking place on the outdoor rinks. For Islanders home games, The Park will offer fans a special pregame experience. Similar to College Gameday, MSG Networks’ Islanders Pregame Show will broadcast live from the venue, while the team will also host watch parties for select road games.
Between the two rinks will sit an outdoor Beer Garden adorned with twinkly lights, fire pits, and lawn games, with the team promising that this will be “the place to be” before Islanders fixtures. The VIP Igloo Garden will be a hospitality area featuring six 12-foot wide heated and furnished igloos.
Along with food trucks, guests will be able to play a variety of vintage carnival games and win Islanders-themed prizes, while the Isles Lab Swag Shack pop-up store will be installed.
Delivery of The Park comes with Belmont Park itself set to undergo an extensive redevelopment project. Home of US horse racing showpiece the Belmont Stakes, the NYRA has said the redevelopment will be “one of the most significant racetrack construction projects in modern memory”.
“Community events and activities will play a central role at the new Belmont Park,” said David O’Rourke, NYRA President and CEO.
“This partnership between NYRA and the New York Islanders will advance that mission by providing our neighbours with easy and affordable access to ice skating and hockey in the Belmont Park backyard. We’re excited to help grow this new initiative and look forward to welcoming kids and families to The Park.”
Image Credit: New York Islanders