The resumption of on-site construction on the New York Islanders’ new arena located at Belmont Park on the Queens/Long Island border is “on the horizon,” a source with knowledge of the situation told amNewYork Metro.
On-site work on the 600,000 square-foot, 19,000-seat multi-purpose arena that is being funded by Islanders principal owner Scott Malkin, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke, was halted on March 27 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Richard Browne, managing partner of Sterling Project Development — which is heading the construction — remained steadfast at the time that the project would remain on schedule for its October 2021 opening as long as construction resumes “within a reasonable period.”
While it’s been almost two months since work at Belmont has been done, there is still fabrication being done, the source reiterated.
“There is so much more that goes into construction than just guys at the construction site,” the source said. “So a lot of that design work can still continue while people are working remotely.”
Sterling and the Islanders did not return inquiries for comment by the time of this article’s publishing regarding whether or not the arena’s completion will remain on schedule.
For on-site construction to resume, Long Island would have to fulfill each part of a seven-step criteria put forth by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The Governor’s office guidelines are as follows:
- Decline in Total Hospitalizations: Before a phased re-opening begins, a region must experience a sustained decline in total net hospitalizations – the total number of people in the hospital each day, calculated on a three-day rolling average — throughout a 14-day period. Alternatively, regions that have seen few COVID cases overall will satisfy this metric if the daily net increase in total hospitalizations (measured on a three-day rolling average) has never exceeded 15.
- Decline in Deaths: A region must experience a sustained decline in the three-day rolling average of daily hospital deaths throughout a 14-day period. Alternatively, regions that have seen few COVID cases overall will satisfy this metric if the three-day rolling average of daily new hospital deaths has never exceeded 5.
- New Hospitalizations: Fewer than two new hospitalizations per 100,000 residents (measured on a three-day rolling average).
- Hospital Bed Capacity: Regions must have at least 30 percent of their total hospital beds available before a phased re-open can begin.
- ICU Bed Capacity: Regions must have at least 30 percent of their ICU beds available before a phased re-opening can begin.
- Diagnostic Testing Capacity: Phased re-openings will depend on the ability of each region to achieve 30 tests per 1,000 people per month.
- Contact Tracing Capacity: Robust contact tracing programs be in place before local governments consider easing restrictions.
According to the governor’s office, Long Island has fulfilled five of those seven steps but still needs to cut down on its hospital death toll and introduce suitable contract tracing.
If construction is delayed for too long, the Islanders would wind up playing the 2021-22 season at the NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. The downsized Coliseum was the Islanders’ original home from 1972-2015 before a five-year stint at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn went awry.
Starting last season, they split their home games between Brooklyn and Uniondale and announced in February that all home games for the 2020-21 season will be played at the Coliseum.