UBS Arena, the under-construction new home of the New York Islanders NHL ice hockey team, is set to be fitted with air-cleaning technology to reduce the risks posed by airborne viruses.

The 19,000-seat venue is due to open in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. The project is being delivered by Oak View Group, whose chief executive Tim Leiweke has revealed details of the new technology.

Leiweke told CNBC that OVG will partner with ME Engineering and architecture firm Populous on the air-filtration systems, which would use UV lighting to eliminate viruses and ensure air inside the venue is clean.

“The long-term solution is going to be medicine, treatment, and vaccine,” Leiweke said. “But it’s also going to be cleaner, smarter air. So, in an indoor space, what we’re thinking is – how do we create cleaner, fresher air?”

Hygiene and spectator safety have become increasingly important areas of concern among sports teams and venues amid the continued risks posed by COVID-19.

Leiweke added: “The issue is: How do you get it into an 850,000-square foot arena and make it work? And that’s what we’re working on. These are the sort of things our task force – ME Engineering and Populous – are all working on now.

“How do we get the building of the future that’s more driven by health and wellness? What we haven’t figured out is: What does the beast cost, and how do you build it?”

OVG is also delivering the Climate Pledge Arena project for the Seattle Kraken, which will join the NHL in 2021.

Leiweke said the future of both Climate Pledge Arena and UBS Arena would “not be league certified” and would instead be certified by sustainability, sanitisation and safety-diversity bodies. “We’re spending money now to get ahead of that because that’s what people are going to care about in your building,” he said.

Work on UBS Arena was paused in March due to COVID-19, pushing the completion date of the venue back by two months. Construction has since resumed and last Friday the venue celebrated another milestone as the final steel beam was placed on its roof truss. The steel beam is painted white and features a red UBS logo, along with black scribbles of construction workers and arena partners.

Image: UBS