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Islanders forced to pause Belmont Park work

Work on a new arena project for the New York Islanders NHL ice hockey team has been temporarily halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Islanders are currently building a new 19,000-seat arena as part of the $1.3bn (£1bn/€1.2bn) Belmont Park redevelopment project and the team broke ground on the facility in September.

The arena is scheduled to open in time for the 2021-22 NHL season but work has been forced to halt after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded his temporary shutdown of non-essential projects.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said: “We support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to eliminate the Covid-19 virus. He has been the driving force behind the construction of Belmont Park Arena. 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.”

The Islanders currently split games between Brooklyn’s Barclays Center and the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island. The Coliseum previously served as the Islanders’ home for 30 years before the team moved to Barclays Center in 2015.

Having spent so long at the Coliseum, Long Island is viewed as the Islanders’ spiritual home and earlier this month the team announced that it would play all of its home games at the Coliseum during the 2020-21 campaign ahead of its move to Belmont Park the following season. The move was made possible after $6m in state-funded upgrades brought the Coliseum up to the required NHL standards.

The wide-ranging Belmont Park project will also include a 250-room hotel and 300,000 square feet of retail space. The project is expected to create 10,000 construction jobs and support 3,200 full-time jobs upon completion.

In other news, work on a new stadium for Major League Soccer expansion franchise Austin FC has also been paused due to restrictions surrounding construction projects in the city. Work was required to wrap up by Friday night after those working in the Austin construction industry were ordered to cease operating.

The 20,500-seat stadium is due to open in the spring of 2021 ahead of Austin FC’s inaugural MLS season. Austin was awarded an MLS franchise in January 2019 and the team broke ground on the stadium last September.

Image: New York Islanders