Elmont, New York, United States
Challenge. UBS Arena is located in the heart of Belmont Gardens and serves as the home for the New York Islanders. This next-generation arena was designed for music and built for hockey, offering state-of-the-art acoustics for the world’s top artists and exemplary sightlines.
The design was inspired by the rich history of Belmont Park mixed with hints of New York City’s Central Park. To honor this history, a landscape of legacy trees remains around the arena, allowing fans to enter the major arena through a stately grove of mature-growth trees.
The genesis of UBS Arena came as the New York Islanders searched to find an arena to bring the team back home to Long Island. As a result, Populous partnered with the New York Arena Partners — a joint venture of the New York Islanders, Oak View Group and Sterling Project Development — and the vision for UBS Arena was realized.
Innovation. The design of UBS Arena fosters a flexible and unique experience for hockey and concert fans alike, focused on tailored experiences and innovative details.
I am very confident that UBS Arena will quickly become the venue that all future arenas will be measured against.Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group
With a seating bowl that is closer to the ice, fans feel as though they are right on top of the action, creating a more intimate game day experience. The arena also features the largest scoreboard in New York State and two levels of high-resolution LED ribbon boards, ensuring that not a second of game play is missed.
The rich traditions of the New York Islanders are paid homage in the design of the arena. The addition of the NHL’s first supporters standing section honors the famous Section 329, originally located at Nassau Coliseum. This was where the Islanders’ devoted fan base, the Blue and Orange Army, would stand for entire games. At UBS Arena, this section is placed at nearly the exact same location as the original.
The concert experience for fans and performers is not compromised as the arena features a cutting-edge sound system and absorptive material throughout the seating bowl, amplifying the acoustic experience. Populous selected upholstered seating, which also strengthens the acoustics in the arena and ensures that sound quality is maintained no matter the number of attendees, from sound check to live performances.
For performers, the arena offers operationally efficient spaces, boasting an easily accessible load-in/load-out sequence, with one of the largest marshalling yards in the industry. This is a covered, enclosed and heated space with direct ramp access to the arena floor.
The arena also houses a star compound, designed specifically for performers. The luxurious interior design includes high quality finishes, custom area rugs, rich wallcovering, artwork and decorative lighting.
UBS Arena offers flexible food and beverage markets, featuring six concession stands and 13 food markets. This includes two Amazon Just-Walk-Out Stations, that eliminate lines and saves time for fans. There is a speak-easy located off the main concourse and 10 bars that open directly into the bowl to ensure that gameplay is never missed. The arena is also home to Belmont Hall, an Islanders-inspired sports bar designed and constructed through Populous’ design-led design build process.
Impact. Since opening in 2021, UBS Arena has successfully returned the New York Islanders to their Long Island home. For years, the Islanders moved from one venue to the next, and UBS Arena provides the team what was long desired: a place to call their own.
With its revolutionary acoustics and seamless back-of-house, the arena is highly sought after by performers. UBS Arena has already proven to be one of the top arenas for hockey and entertainment in the country, and it will continue to serve as a benchmark for arena design.
As architect of record, Populous developed the arena’s overall layout, seating bowl, event level spaces and location of suites and clubs. This 745,000-square-foot arena, designed for music and built for hockey can host 18,600 concert goers and 17,200 hockey fans.
To ensure concertgoers feel as welcome as hockey fans, Populous incorporated upscale finishes throughout the arena. The concourses feature artisan white subway tile to brighten the space, wood paneling and high-end light fixtures that radiate theatrical light to promote the premium experience.
Populous also designed the campuses for home and visiting teams and the star compound. This includes a space for performers, a green room, and artist and family lounges. Populous saw this space as an opportunity to broaden the premium experience by incorporating luxurious design detail through high quality finishes, spa-inspired bathrooms and illuminated mirrors.
Populous’ Brand Activation team established and strengthened the storytelling of UBS Arena, highlighting the rich history of Belmont Gardens, the New York Islanders and the unique features of the arena. Branding was designed for arena concessions, clubs and suites. Through collaboration with the arena’s sales/marketing team and stakeholders, partnerships were seamlessly incorporated into brand materials.
Populous designed the building navigation strategy, including the site and wayfinding signage throughout UBS Arena. Comprehensible and explicit wayfinding signage was designed using materials that took inspiration from Belmont Park’s history and New York City’s Central Park.
Populous partnered with Shawmut Design + Construction to deliver the design and build of Belmont Hall, located within UBS Arena. In this role, Populous led the project from concept to completion. This restaurant offers an Islanders-focused dining space with authentic art and interiors that reflect the long-standing brand of the Islanders. This sports bar features some of the most popular menu items from The Harrison, a beloved Floral Park restaurant.
Populous worked with London-based architecture and interiors practice Jump Studios, a Populous company, to design interiors at UBS Arena.
The scheme incorporates an eclectic range of food stands, bars and communal spaces that celebrate Metro New York and Belmont Park, including its famous neighboring racecourse. It provides a modern, 21st century experience for guests, while paying homage to a team and site steeped in history.
The design team’s desire to honor the past as fans journey through today’s arena is apparent from the outset. The arena’s entrance is inspired by Grand Central Station and Park Avenue Armory. As fans step into the Grand Hall, they are greeted by a feature ceiling resembling the night sky, with a mottled paint finish and embedded LEDs.
Moving into the main concourse, an articulated colonnade runs throughout the arena echoing the arches of Central Park, while tile designs inspired by the New York subway line the walls. The arena’s food offerings includes 18 market-style concessions based on the city’s colorful kiosks that are a feature throughout Belmont Park. The upper concourse bars draw upon elements of Metro New York’s industrial heritage as seen in the Brooklyn Bridge-inspired intricate cable work. Even the restrooms pay homage to the city with the signage employing the familiar font of the iconic New Yorker Magazine.
The scheme also celebrates the legacy of historical figures. Harriet’s Bar honours Harriet Quimby, the first U.S. woman to gain a pilot’s licence after an aviation tournament at Belmont Park sparked her interest. Eddie’s Bar celebrates Eddie D. Brown, who in 1870 became the first black jockey to win the Belmont Stakes riding ‘Kingfisher.’
Facts and Figures
- Hockey game capacity
- Basketball game capacity
- Concert capacity
- Premium suites
- Square Footage
- Outdoor Terrace Square Footage