Gary Bettman: UBS Arena will host big NHL events when time is right
Gary Bettman wants UBS Arena to host some of the NHL’s marquee events. The league’s commissioner just isn’t committing to a timeline.
“We definitely want to hold some league events there,” Bettman said Tuesday at the Associated Press Sports Editors’ meeting in Manhattan. “There’s more construction to be done on the site. While we haven’t fixed a date, the Islanders know, whether it’s an All-Star Game or a Draft or some other special event, it’s something we’re interested in when the timing is right from their standpoint.”
Bettman’s response came after he was also asked about the possibility of Belmont Park hosting an outdoor game.
His response is also in line with what he said at the UBS Arena ribbon-cutting ceremony on Nov. 19 when he indicated the planned hotel that was part of the project needed to be completed before the league could stage its marquee events there.
While the Islanders finally moved into their long-awaited new home, it did not lead to on-ice success as the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 2018. Coach Barry Trotz was fired on Monday.
Still, UBS Arena, which has a capacity of 17,255 for hockey, averaged 16,943 for its 41 home dates. That accounts for tickets sold and there were more empty seats later in the season.
“It was a tough season,” Bettman said. “They couldn’t get into the building until Nov. 20 and then had a COVID outbreak. I think they endured it well. The fan reaction has been great. The building is doing well. We couldn’t be more optimistic about the Islanders’ future.
“They’ve never been in quite a good situation like this, a combination of fan support, a new arena, and ownership. Scott Malkin has been an incredible owner for the club in terms of what he’s devoted energy and resource wise. The Islanders are all good.”