Construction continues at the new Belmont Arena for the Islanders...

Construction continues at the new Belmont Arena for the Islanders on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman believes the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park can still be completed on or close to its target date of October 2021.

Construction was halted on March 27 because of the COVID-19 pandemic but is expected to resume on Wednesday with New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s announcement on Tuesday that Long Island can begin Phase 1 reopening.

Bettman, speaking on a teleconference on Tuesday, said it was his understanding, “they have either resumed construction or they’re about to.”

“The building is proceeding and, I’m told, it will be on time or close to on time,” Bettman said. “So, that shouldn’t be an issue.”

Construction, along with limited retail sales, manufacturing, wholesale trade and agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting are included as businesses that can re-open in Phase 1.

The work on the Belmont Park arena was deemed non-essential when it was halted.

Cuomo, speaking at the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan after ringing the opening bell, said, “Long Island will open tomorrow,” though he did not specifically mention the Belmont Park arena project.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said via her Twitter account on Sunday that “construction at Belmont resumes in Phase 1.”

The Islanders have targeted the start of the 2021-22 NHL regular season to open their new home. And, while it’s still unclear exactly how this two-month delay in construction will affect that timeline, team officials have expressed confidence throughout the forced work stoppage that the project could still be completed on time.

A mild winter did help the construction schedule.

The building will seat 17,113 for hockey and is the focal point of a $1.3 billion project that also includes a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail. New York Arena Partners - a joint venture between Islanders principal owner Scott Malkin, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke - is privately funding the project.

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