Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Following a 13-game road trip to start the season, the New York Islanders are ready to welcome fans back in the stands for the first home game as they introduce the world to the brand-new UBS Arena in Elmont on Long Island.
The Islanders finally hit their home ice for their first practice at the new arena on Thursday, Nov. 18, as they prepare for their long-awaited home opener against the Calgary Flames at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20.
Officials said that the intimacy fans rejoiced over at Nassau Coliseum will be retained at the new arena, with the dimensions on light slightly different than the original in an effort to contain the crowd noise and allow fans to feel closer to the action.
The new $1.1 billion arena next to the Belmont Park racetrack can hold approximately 17,250 fans as it replaces the famed Coliseum as the Islanders’ home ice.
There is now a “fan group wall,” which represents the Islanders’ sprawling fanbase across the world, with fans represented from the UK and Brazil to Raleigh and Las Vegas, with the logos of the affiliates posted in a section above the upper deck.
Much like Nassau Coliseum, UBS Arena will cater to their fans, with nearly a dozen different bars, including some high-end spots for premium ticket holders and a 100-foot “tailgate bar” where fans can congregate and watch the game.
Other innovations include the new nearby Long Island Railroad station - the first of its kind in decades - which will be available for fans for the home opener before full service begins next summer.
Then, there’s the food, including a fried chicken breast sandwich called "The Islander," served on a bagel with the Islanders' team colors of blue and orange. (Click on the second image above.)
The Islanders and UBS Arena are partnering with the Taste NY initiative to source the majority of its ingredients from the region, with a host of local vendors available for those looking for something special from the area.
“UBS Arena concessions feature market-style outlets that offer a mix of hot, freshly prepared food selections complemented by a variety of ready-to-go meals and self-serve snack and beverage options,” officials said.
“We have 12 markets – three of which are large, multi-concept designs housing several different prepared foods and menu options. Vegetarian, gluten-free, and kosher options are (also) available.”
Local eateries such as The Harrison, Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue, Blue Line Deli & Bagels, and The Sausage King of New York will all have stands at UBS Arena.
“The focus on bringing a true local New York flavor throughout the culinary offerings will provide our guests with a unique experience they can only find at UBS Arena,” President of Arena Operations at UBS Arena Hank Abate stated.
“In working with our colleagues at Delaware North to bring this to life, we’re excited for fans to taste all these creations starting this month.”
Some of the Islanders players have said that they are as eager to hit the home ice as fans are to watch them there.
“We've been looking forward to this for a long time, and I know the fans have and the organization," Islanders captain Anders Lee said to NHL.com. "To get in here today to practice was pretty cool and walk around the place for the first time and see what everything is about and how hard everyone has been working on this place.
“It's going to be really great and I'm excited for everyone to get in here and see a game and really enjoy this all together.”
Center Mathew Barzal added that “it absolutely blew (him) away.”
“I walked right in, saw the gym, saw the eating area and I couldn't wait to see more,” he said. “The entire facility and the rink and how it was set up was so high-end. I can't even tell you how nice it is down here. We're a really lucky group."
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