UBS Arena planners want to ensure most of the physical contact in the under-construction building at Belmont Park will take place on the ice during Islanders games.
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically refocused thinking on health and safety protocols, and UBS Arena will prioritize mobile technology to reduce "touch points."
"We have a chance to build into the original fabric of our arena various things that will keep our fans safe and sound," Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said on a webinar released on Thursday detailing some of the health and safety precautions being designed in conjunction with arena sponsor Northwell Health and developer Oak View Group.
"The most important thing we’re facing off against is the comfort of home and being on the sofa," Ledecky said. "We have to give a reason for the customer to come out and come to UBS Arena. We have to make sure that the fan feels one million percent comfortable and safe when they walk through our doors."
The $1 billion arena is expected to open in November 2021.
Improved air ventilation and filtration are a large part of the new safety measures. But so, too, is a contactless experience.
"There are a lot of touch points, we counted over 50 as the user goes through," said Sherri Privitera, the senior architect and principal of Populous, a design firm working on the project. "We want to make sure they come in with mobile technology. In the venue, make purchases through the phone as a way to reduce those touch points. Fewer belly-up concessions but really a grab-and-go atmosphere."
Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke likened the "evolution" in health and safety protocols to the security improvements made at arenas and stadiums after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The added resulting costs are just part of the equation.
"It’s not just expenditures and costs," Northwell Health President and CEO Michael Dowling said. "These are investments in a better future."