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  • Ken Thorp

UBS Arena – New York Islanders


Photos by Ken Thorp, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14

UBS Arena 2400 Hempstead Turnpike Elmont, NY 11003


Year Opened: 2021

Capacity: 17,255


 

Welcome Home, Islanders!

After waiting two years to experience the new UBS arena where the New York Islanders returned home to Long Island, I was anxious to see what took years to come to fruition. For years, the NY Islanders were in limbo as team ownership rallied for a new venue.


Resistance from politicians prevented the team from acquiring a new venue and after exhausting all avenues, team ownership decided to move to Brooklyn’s Barclay Center. This move came with promises to fans that mass transit stops would still allow the faithful fan base easy access to their beloved Islanders.


This move was considered a failure as attendance dwindled due to high transportation costs, long commute times, and a lack of parking options. Enter Belmont Park and a plan to build a new stadium back in Nassau County, where the Islanders called home through the Dynasty years.


The excitement leading up to the opening was electric and games were sold out for months. Long Islanders rejoiced at bringing their boys home.


Food & Beverage 4

The food and beverage choices are plentiful. From the basics (Chicken Nuggets, Pretzels, Popcorn, etc.) to the extravagant (Specialty Burgers, BBQ, and even Sushi), the food options do not disappoint. The concession stands are littered all around the venue with counter service, kiosks, and Grab and go options.


Alcohol options are also available at multiple locations. There are at least 10 domestic and imported beer options along with liquor drinks, wine, hard seltzers, and a specialty drink served in a souvenir Mason Jar with the Islander logo on it. There is a beautiful outdoor bar with comfortable couches for lounging before and during the game. The volume of choices keeps the lines short which is much appreciated.


The downside is the prices. One domestic beer and one hard seltzer total $38 and the specialty drink is priced at $26. My family ordered four glasses of water, a fountain soda, and chicken nuggets (which came with fries) and the price tag was $78. This reviewer found the prices to be exorbitant and in no way conducive to a family event. Even for New York, which traditionally has higher prices, we felt taken advantage of. For that reason, we deducted a point.


Atmosphere 5

The excitement for the home team is palpable and the arena is decorated with reminders of past championships, beautiful murals, gorgeous architecture, and a huge Team Store.


The ice is used as a movie screen with images projected onto it which is a cool effect. The interaction with fans by the fanfare team is great. There are fun contests, and the team does several T-shirt tosses. The Zamboni looks like a six-pack of Heineken which is a hit with people in our section.


The night of this review, happened to be “Nickelodeon Night” so the announcers during commercial breaks were kids known from the shows they broadcast. They conducted interviews with famous players who were cute and the kids in attendance got a real kick out of it. There were Nickelodeon giveaways as well, including “Make your own Slime”.


The Islander Mascot is available for pictures and there are several Backdrops for picture taking as well. If you go to guest services, “My First Islander Game” certificates are available for newcomers as well.


We love the atmosphere both inside the seating area and the outside concourse area. Fans can easily move around and never feel crowded with lines spilling out and blocking the flow of traffic.


Neighborhood 3

The surrounding area is congested and there is no easy way to navigate the streets. The arena/park is located on Hempstead Turnpike, which is a tight thorofare so traffic can be an issue even when there are no games. The road is littered with various eating options within 5 miles. There are bus routes on this road which is a good option for transportation and if you are driving, be prepared to stop every 100ft. for a traffic light.


If you are willing to drive 20 minutes east, the Children’s Museum, the Cradle of Aviation Museum, and the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum (the old home of the Islanders) are all within that time frame.


Fans 5

The Islander fans are a loyal bunch that knows their team’s history and is willing to talk about it at every opportunity. They are loud and proud and willing to support their team during the highs and the lows of the season.


Our game was sold out and the fans made it fun with an infectious energy. The traditional, “Let’s Go Islanders” chant could be heard throughout the game, and we could not help but join in. The fans and fanfare made a memorable experience all around.


Access 3

There are a few parking areas with the cheapest being close to a $40 price tag. We parked in the Green lot which is a far walk around the racetrack. The team provides coach buses to transport fans to the entrance.


Once we arrived at the venue, it is only a short walk to the entrance. The entrance into the venue is easy with many entry lines and bag checks allowing quick access to the arena.


There are bus routes along Hempstead Turnpike. but it is a bit of a trek to the arena entrance. There is also a dedicated train stop on the grounds of the complex which looks much easier to navigate.


With all that being said, leaving is a completely different story. As the crowd of thousands exited the arena, there were many staff members outside directing us to the proper line for our parking area as well as to the shuttle for the train stops. The lines were extremely long winding through a maze like cattle. It was raining and we were surprised the line area had no awnings built over it. Needless to say, we were soaked when we finally boarded the bus and felt walking the long way back would have been quicker.


Once we arrived at our lot, we realized there was only one way out which led to a chaotic mess of cars trying to exit. This took upwards of half an hour and our car was relatively close to the exit compared to others. I am sure some fans waited an hour to get out.


There are closer parking lots available, but they run from $80 and up. Our tickets ran $65.each so the cost of parking and the exit time is why we deducted 2 points. I believe this is a work in progress as they are in the process of constructing additional parking garages so hopefully this will improve.


Return on Investment 4

The tickets we purchased were decent seats for the price and I felt they were worth the price we paid. The cost of items inside the arena is overpriced as is the parking by comparison. As it was our first time, we were happy overall as this venue has many nice offerings and fun for all ages.


Overall, we had a good experience but next time, we will eat beforehand and explore other means of transportation ahead of time.


Extras 5

There is a lot of attention to detail which is evident as you explore this venue. The park outside the complex is beautiful and it would be nice to spend some time exploring that for a day game in the future. The little giveaways make the kids happy and the effort to make everyone have fun does not go unnoticed.


Final Thoughts

The UBS is a decent venue. They have enough bells and whistles to provide an adequate game day experience. They have a ridiculous amount of food choices as well as concession stands. They work extremely hard to keep the fans engaged in the game.


The amount of money a family has to lay out to go to an Islanders game is astronomical. The parking situation, in the emerald lot specifically, needs serious help. The building and the team are great, but even after two years, there is still room for improvement.

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