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UBS Scores Naming Rights to N.Y. Islanders Arena in Queens

This content was published on July 22, 2020 - 16:18

(Bloomberg) -- UBS Group AG clinched the naming rights for the future home of the New York Islanders hockey team that’s part of the $1.5 billion Belmont Park redevelopment project in Queens.

UBS Arena is scheduled to open for the 2021-2022 National Hockey League season, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Financial terms of the 20-year naming-rights agreement weren’t disclosed.

The redevelopment project in Elmont, New York, will generate an estimated $25 billion in economic activity, including 10,000 construction jobs as well as 3,000 permanent positions, of which 30% are set aside for local residents, UBS said. About $100 million in transit and infrastructure investments, including the first newly constructed Long Island Rail Road station in almost 50 years, are being made alongside the project.

“We’re big supporters of New York, and this was a great way to show our commitment,” Tom Naratil, co-president of UBS’s global wealth-management unit, said in a phone interview. “We’ve got three really exciting teams in the metropolitan area. I’m sure drawing fans to the UBS Arena for Devils, Rangers and Islanders games won’t be a problem at all.”

Oak View Group, which is leading the project, is developing the venue with Sterling Project Development and the Islanders, winner of four Stanley Cup championships. The venue is being designed with advanced safety measures in mind because of the coronavirus, said Tim Leiweke, chief executive officer of Oak View Group, who said he aims to make it one of the top 10 music arenas in the world.

Pent-Up Demand

“I certainly am excited that we’re opening this next fall -- if we were opening this fall, we would certainly have more trials and tribulations,” Leiweke said. Still, he sees pent-up demand for live sports and music returning as the pandemic wears on, so long as the venue puts robust sanitizing measures in place to make attendees feel safe.

Businesses owned by minorities and women will get 30% of the construction contracts, while firms owned by service-disabled veterans will get 6%.

The project comes at a time when economic activity has slowed because of the pandemic.

“UBS Arena will now stand as a beacon of strength,” said Jonathan Ledecky, co-owner of the Islanders. “It’s a great day for the fans.”

It won’t be the Islanders’ first home arena with a tie to European banking. The team spent several years playing at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Other hockey venues named for banks include the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Scotiabank Arena and the Boston Bruins’ TD Garden Arena.

After stopping during the pandemic, the NHL is getting ready to resume play on Aug. 1 in Toronto and Edmonton, Canada, Commissioner Gary Bettman said in an interview. Players are currently in training camps in their home cities and will travel to the hubs on Sunday, where they’ll be kept in “bubbles” with their teams and staff. The athletes will be tested for Covid-19 daily. Out of more than 800 tested, two were found to be positive for the virus last week.

The 2021-2022 season will probably start in November or December of next year, Bettman said, although the league is trying to “consider all options and be flexible.”

(Updates with other venues in antepenultimate paragraph, comments from NHL commissioner in last two paragraphs.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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