Construction on Islanders’ Belmont Park arena stopped due to coronavirus
The Islanders’ wait for their new home just got a little longer.
All construction on Belmont Park Arena was officially paused on Friday as part of New York’s response to the national coronavirus pandemic. During his daily briefing on the virus crisis, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that “non-essential construction will be stopped” in order to focus on building four new hospitals in the New York City area.
Cuomo’s executive order gave no specific time frame for the resumption of construction. Essential construction is being defined as roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters, according to the state’s website. Crews could be seen working on site until Thursday on the live webcam linked to the Islanders’ website, which showed no activity at the site Friday.
Ground was broken in September and the arena has been scheduled to open in October 2021, the start of the Islanders’ 2021-22 season. The delay could make it difficult for the arena to open on time, though an official with Sterling Project Development, which is heading the construction, said that’s not necessarily the case.
“If construction restarts within a reasonable period, we expect to maintain our schedule and for the arena to be open for the 2021-22 NHL season,” Richard Browne, Sterling’s managing partner, said in a statement.
The $1.3 billion project includes the 17,113-seat arena, a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail. There also will be a new Elmont station on the LIRR to service the site.
An extended delay could force the Islanders to play 2021-22 home games at Nassau Coliseum, where they played exclusively from 1972 to 2015, when they began splitting time between Long Island and Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Cuomo recently announced the Islanders will play their entire home schedule for the 2020-21 season at the Coliseum.
The arena project is being privately funded by New York Arena Partners, which is made up of Islanders principal owner Scott Malkin, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke.