Reality has taken another bite out of the New York Islanders. All work on their new arena at Belmont Park has been stopped due to new COVID-19 restrictions.
All of us are finding out the hard way that there are more important things in life than sporting events. It doesn’t mean that we don’t feel hurt when the events get canceled. Friday there was just a little more of a sting to the New York Islanders and their fans when it was announced that construction of their new arena at Belmont Park was stopped due to coronavirus restrictions.
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) issued an executive order on Friday that all non-essential commercial construction must stop. This was done to lessen the risk of spreading coronavirus Obviously, a new arena at this time is the very definition of non-essential commercial construction. Further, more materials and workers are needed to help the state construct four new hospitals to increase the number of hospital beds.
The order gave no timetable for this type of construction to resume. A check on the webcam the New York Islanders have on their website shows a black rectangle. There is nothing new to see at this point. So far construction was way ahead of schedule. If the delay isn’t too long, the company running the project, Sterling Project Development believes the arena could open on time for the 2021-22 season.
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If there is a long break, the Islanders may have to start the season with an extended road trip like the Rangers did while MSG was undergoing renovation in 2013. Or they may have to play a few games at the Nassau Coliseum. In the large scope of current world events, neither option is intolerable.
For their part, the New York Islanders were in agreement with, and support, Cuomo’s decision. Per Newsday’s Jim Baumbach, team President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello said:
"We support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to eliminate the COVID-19 virus…The progress that has been made since the groundbreaking is truly incredible and is a credit to all of the construction workers that have been there every day. Those workers are all a part of our community and we want them safe and healthy.”"
Islanders fans are disappointed by the news, but everyone knows fighting this battle against an insidious and deadly foe is more serious than any battle that happens on the ice at their new arena.