The group overseeing the Belmont Park Arena project just announced its new executive team.
New York Arena Partners, which includes the New York Islanders ownership group, the Oak View Group and Jeff Wilpon, made the announcement on June 17. Tom Pistore will serve as president of commercial operations and Hank Abate is the new president of arena operations.
“During these unprecedented times, we’re fortunate to be building Belmont Park Arena, which we are confident will play a key part in New York State’s economic recovery,” Tim Leiweke, CEO of the Oak View Group, said in a statement. “This is going to be a world-class venue with a top executive tea. Tom and Hank are highly respected throughout the industry and the perfect choices to lead us.”
Belmont Park’s executive group will also feature Charles Groneman as the chief Financial officer, Zachary Klein as general counsel and Lea del Rosario as senior vice president of human resources.
“I’d like to thank ownership for the privilege of joining this once in a lifetime project,” Pistore said. “Belmont Park Arena is going to be an iconic venue that will transform the way fans view sports and live entertainment.”
Pistore previously worked with Toronto’s Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Partnership. He worked within four different leagues, leading premium, membership and retail game admission revenues across all product segments. As Pistore comes to Long Island, his areas of expertise include customer acquisition, retention programming, premium VIP programming, partnership development and marketing promotion. He also served as a senior consultant for the Islanders prior to being named as part of the Belmont Park Arena executive team.
The $1.3 billion arena project’s construction is well underway. Though construction was temporarily halted due to stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, Belmont Park is still scheduled to open in time for the Islanders’ 2021-22 season.
The Belmont Park Arena is also on a hiring spree, with New York Arena Partners stating that the June announcement “is a monumental first step.”
The 19,000-seat arena will be accompanied by a shopping area, as well
“We’re going to have the first third-generation arena in American history,” Islanders majority owner Jon Ledecky said earlier in the year. “This arena will be unbelievable from a technology standpoint. Of course, the entire arena will be 5G and adjacent to it will have a 250-room hotel and across the street and highway, there will be a retail village.
“So how do we get you out off the couch and to Belmont? That’s what we’re solving for. We have to make the experience at Belmont Park arena—not just in the arena, but outside the arena with many things that we will be having going on at this part we’re building next to the arena.”
The Grand Old Barn is in trouble.
New York Arena Partners’ announcement of its new executive team came just after Onexim Sports and Entertainment’s Mikhail Prokhorov, who is the ex-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, said NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum will be closing.
Prokhorov sold the Nets and the Barclays Center in December to Alibaba’s Joseph Tsai, but he still owns Nassau Coliseum. The reason for shutting down NYCB Live, the Russian billionaire said, was due to finding new investors to take over the lease. Bloomberg News reported that there is a $100 million debt on the Grand Old Barn.
The Islanders were supposed to play all of the team’s playoff games on Long Island, rather than the Barclays, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in late February. However, that plan has been scratched because of COVID-19 anyway.
Additionally, the Islanders inked an agreement to fully return to NYCB Live at Nassau Coliseum for the 2020-21 season. The team played 24 of its home games in Nassau prior to the COVID-19 shutdown.
The NHL will return on July 10 with teams starting training camp. Then, there will be a 24-team Stanley Cup tournament in two host cities. Currently, Las Vegas is the front runner to be one of the two areas that will be a host city.
There will be four playoff rounds, with each being a best-of-seven series. The NHL will also feature a play-in round, which will be a best-of-five.
The Islanders (No. 7) are set to face off against the Florida Panthers (No. 10) in the qualifying round. If the Islanders defeat the Panthers, they will head to the first round of the playoffs.