All construction on Belmont Park Arena was officially paused on Friday as part of New York’s response to the national coronavirus pandemic. During his daily briefing on the virus crisis, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that “non-essential construction will be stopped” in order to focus on building four new hospitals in the New York City area.
There was no specific time frame for resuming construction in Cuomo’s executive order.
Essential construction is being defined as roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing and homeless shelters, according to the state’s website. Belmont construction crews could be seen working on site until Thursday on the live webcam linked to the Islanders’ website, which showed no activity at the site Friday.
Ground was broken in September and the arena has been scheduled to open in October 2021, the start of the Islanders’ 2021-22 season. The delay likely would make it difficult to have the $1.3 billion project, which is expected to seat 17,113 people, include a 250-room hotel and 350,000 square feet of retail, ready in time. There also will be a new Elmont station on the LIRR to service the site.
An extended delay could force the Islanders to begin the NHL season playing home games at the Nassau Coliseum, where they played exclusively from 1972 to 2015, when they began splitting time between Long Island and Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Cuomo recently announced the Islanders will play their entire home schedule for the 2020-21 season at the Coliseum.
The arena project is being privately funded by New York Arena Partners, which is made up of Islanders principal owner Scott Malkin, Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon and Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke.