If you follow the New York Islanders, these last few days have felt a bit rough.
First came the unfortunate news Tuesday regarding the closing of the Coliseum by Mikhail Prokhorov’s Onexim Sports and Entertainment — the company which operates the Old Barn — as he looks for new investors to help keep the building running and assist in paying off $100 million in debt. And then yesterday, a report came out stating prized prospect Ilya Sorokin is in a “holding pattern” as he waits for the NHL to come to a decision as to whether he can play for the organization this season.
Things seemed like they weren’t looking up. But once again, the thing that continues to provide some comfort for the fanbase took center stage — the Isles’ soon to be future home at Belmont Park.
In a 15-minute video released last night, the team provided updates on the construction going on right now after they were given the go-ahead to resume working on the building a few weeks ago following a two-month shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Richard Browne, the Managing Director of Sterling Project Development, whose company is running the show right now on site, spoke of exciting developments.
Browne acknowledged that construction is still ahead of schedule, and that he and his team are both “optimistic and very determined” that the building will be ready by October 2021. He also pointed out the momentum the project continues to gain and by the end of this summer, the roof will already be in place.
“We should be topped off – meaning the last piece of structural steel for the venue will be up toward the end of the summer,” Browne said. “We will be enclosing the building with architectural precast and it’s being manufactured as we speak.”
Even more fantastic news followed. Browne noted that by the end of the year, the entire outside of the facility is expected to be finished, meaning work on the inside will officially begin.
“By the end of the year, you should see an enclosed building,” he said. “On the inside, there will literally be well over 1,000 men and women working around the clock on the interiors to build out that space and have it ready for the 2021-22 season.”
A few other exciting prospects Browne provided fans with is what the experience will be like for Islander games.
“When you are on the inside, you will be a part of cutting-edge technology, the sound, sightlines, food offerings, everything; you’re going to know you’re in a next-generation arena,” he added. “You can be sure, between the orange and blue and the honor paid to the tradition of the franchise, there will be no doubt this will be the branded Islanders home.”
Just listening to those words, it’s hard not to get excited about what this building is going to do for the franchise. Everyone connected to the organization has been juiced up since the moment the team won the bid back in December 2017 and from when they broke ground last September. Add to that the other news that dropped yesterday about the arena’s new executive team being named and some of the heavy hitters who will be involved, and the reality of the Islanders finally getting the home they rightfully deserve feels like it’s getting closer by the day.
There’s still an entire summer to go, but the Isles and their supporters can keep taking solace in knowing a palace will be theirs soon.
Maybe some of that good karma will rub off on the actual team if and when they begin their qualifying series against the Panthers as well as a few other situations facing the organization right now.
Wouldn’t that be something?