STADIUM DUDE’S NHL ARENA RANK: #19
- Elmont, New York
- Opened 2021
- Capacity 17,113
- Games attended: 1
- Last visited: 2021
UBS Arena is a Perfectly Acceptable Billion-Dollar Building
The New York Islanders’ new home by Belmont Park is a good place to watch puck. It’s an arena made for hockey with an intimate seating capacity of just over 17,000.
The “Nuts and Bolts” are Solid
Sight lines are great: the lower bowl is large and relatively steep, and the upper deck isn’t too high thanks to cantilevering the relatively small suite level. The ceiling is only 93 feet high, which is only three feet higher than the cozy Nassau Coliseum. So sound is great and you’re never far from the ice. Seats are wide and very comfortable. The huge center ice scoreboard is fabulous. The washrooms are plentiful, the concession lines moved well, and the concourses are nice and spacious with lots of social areas in which to gather.
The exterior architecture is nice; a little classic “knickerbocker New York”. The brick facade is more traditional and classic and pays homage to the second Madison Square Garden. And the main lobby incorporates industrial elements giving it a bit of a Grand Central Station-feel.
It’s a lot easier to get to than the old Coliseum. For Long Islanders who rely on their cars, ingress and egress is relatively painless, and parking lots were fairly well-managed despite the inevitable operational growing pains. For New Yorkers who rely on public transit, getting in and and out via the LIRR was MUCH easier than trying to do the same at the old barn.
I Love The Crazy Fan Base
It’s filled with great high-energy, Long Island sports fans, perhaps my favorite fan base for live sport. The people are passionate, loud, and have a penchant for creative profanity. At my game, the fan behind me had a few zingers for the refs and opponents, including some f-bombs woven together with masterful craft. I was only semi-shocked when I turned around and saw the heckler was a five-foot, 99-pound Snooki Polizzi lookalike. But her and the heavily-accented fans around her made for a fun night.
But is UBS Arena “Special”?
The short answer is, “No”.
The biggest reason is the lack of a signature element. There isn’t an Oculus, or living wall, or an LED roof that changes color. The concourses don’t have the aesthetic of the ones in Detroit or Minnesota. The pre-game hype show is decidedly forgettable. And food and drink options were OK, but lacked the serious New York City flavor that you get at MSG, Barclay’s, or the ballparks. (But they were PRICED at NYC levels, with my beer costing nearly $22 once I added the 18% tip to the cashless payment option.)
Like the barn it replaced, it’s a Get-In-Get-Out venue with nothing in the way of pre-game options other than the bar attached to the rink (with arena pricing to boot). It reminded me more of MetLife Stadium except even newer. Hence the middle-of-the-pack ranking.
Don’t get me wrong. To use a dated Borat quote, “It’s very nice.” And compared to the Islanders’ previous homes, it’s WAAAY better. But compared to the best arenas in the NHL, it’s just another solid rink.