The naming rights to Belmont Arena, which is on course to be the official home of the New York Islanders in 2021-22, were picked up by the United Bank of Switzerland and will be called UBS Arena, officials announced Wednesday.
“Our group of fans are so excited about this situation that my mobile phone literally blew up, I had to turn it off because of all the text messages,” Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said. “One of the fans wrote, ‘We’re going from the barn to the bank,’ which I thought was a really interesting expression.”
According to CNBC, the Switzerland-based investment bank agreed to terms for 20 years worth $350 million, paying roughly $17.5 million per year. The international bank’s United States headquarters are located in New York City.
“It’s another indication, representation, to the people of New York, particularly Islander fans, that all of the uncertainty that has surrounded this franchise over the last couple of decades, all of the people who were concerned what was the future of the team going to be? Was it even going to be here?” National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Not only is the future secure, it’s going to be in a state-of-the-art, first-class arena, which is something from a hockey standpoint this team hasn’t had in years.”
Construction on the 19,000-seat arena to house the New York Islanders, 350,000 square feet of shops and restaurants, a hotel containing 250 rooms and parking on 43 acres of vacant state-owned property broke ground last September. Also being built with the project is the first new full-time LIRR station in 50 years.
Amenities also included in the soon-to-be constructed facility include a 23,000 square-foot locker room and training area and a sports bar decked out with memorabilia and a standing-room section with views of the ice.
The coronavirus pandemic caused construction on the arena to halt on March 27 before continuing two months later.
Officials and residents of Village of Floral Park, which neighbors the Belmont stadium, have expressed their various grievances throughout the process.
In May, a state Supreme Court justice denied an application submitted by the Village and local civic groups in an attempt to overturn state approvals granted for the development of the arena.
“…although the Court recognized the Village of Floral Park’s “legitimate concerns” with the scope of the Belmont Project and the Belmont Project’s impact on the Village’s residents, the Court determined that it may not “substitute its judgment “ for the judgment of the Empire State Development Corp.,” Floral Park Mayor Dominick Longobardi said in a statement.
Kevin Fitzgerald, Floral Park’s deputy mayor, shared Longobardi’s sentiment of disappointment and said representatives from the Empire State Development did not publicly answer questions or concerns from the public.
“When a new business or restaurant comes to present something to [the village trustees], there are many questions and concerns brought up by the public and then addressed by the presenter,” Fitzgerald said. “[Empire State Development] did not handle this properly, when they knew issues were out in the open.”
The village filed a lawsuit in September asking a judge to overturn all approvals, stop construction on the site and restart the environmental review process.
In January, Fitzgerald said, the village had obtained documents showing that state officials had no intention of taking local concerns into account in the Belmont Park development project.
According to the documents that were acquired by the village under the Freedom of Information Law, a “master plan” for the Belmont Arena project was discussed by developers two years before the state issued a request for the redevelopment of the property, he said.
A spokesperson said Empire State Development abandoned its first request for proposals in December 2016 and subsequently issued a second one a year later in July.
They also said that Empire State Development followed “an independent, competitive process” and that the arena proposal was chosen because it scored the highest of the three responses.