Tim Leiweke strongly believes the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control by the time UBS Arena at Belmont Park opens. Still, the CEO of arena development company Oak View Group said the Islanders’ new home is incorporating enhanced health and safety protocols.
“As we go on, on this small little planet we live on, we’ll have more of these types of issues, more viruses,” Leiweke told Newsday. “We dedicated ourselves in the design of the building to be very focused on wellness and health. We are joining the Wellness Institute [The International WELL Building Institute, the world’s leading certification body for healthy buildings] to be certified and hitting the standards necessary to make sure people are confident when they go into the building.”
That includes thorough sanitization protocols and cleaner and more frequent air circulation.
Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky also described a state-of-the-art concession model that will allow social distancing to be maintained as customers will be billed directly to an online account.
“Amazon Go technology,” Ledecky told Newsday. “You’ll go in and grab a beer and pour it yourself, or whatever food you want, and walk right out. We’re trying to use technology to drive innovation.”
UBS Arena is targeted to open either in October or November of 2021 for the start of that NHL season. The arena, expected to seat 17,113 for hockey, is the centerpiece of a $1.5 billion development at Belmont Park that includes a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail on 43 acres adjacent to the racetrack.
Leiweke believes UBS’ 20-year commitment for naming rights is another hopeful sign.
“We all wanted to send a positive news story to New York that, this, too, shall pass,” Leiweke said. “We will recover and we’re going to thrive. So, to have a company that’s internationally this big making the bet on the Islanders, on Long Island, on this project at this time, it’s an amazing compliment that we will get back to normal again.”