×
Skip to main content

Inside the Successful First Year of New York’s UBS Arena: ‘No Expense Was Spared’

From sustainability to concessions, GM Kim Stone talks about developing the NHL's newest venue, which grossed $51 million from concerts alone in 2022.

One year after opening, the UBS Arena in Belmont, New York has been given the seal of approval by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who visited the arena earlier this week and gave the facility his proverbial thumbs up.

“We want to bring league events to UBS,” Bettman said. “That arena is great. I took the train out [Wednesday] night, [it took] 29 minutes from my office, and once they finish the development surrounding it, it’s gonna be terrific and we’ll bring our events there.”

Related

Only once — in 1983 — did the Islanders host an All-Star Game at the old Nassau Coliseum. The promising praise from Bettman and the final stages of development, which will include a new hotel, are a testament to the work done by the venue’s developer, Los Angeles-based sports management company Oak View Group, and UBS arena President Kim Stone, a seasoned professional with over 30 years of experience in the sports industry. Stone spent almost 13 years managing the Miami Heat arena from 2006 to 2018. Then, she relocated to San Francisco, where she spent over two years as the GM of Chase Center, home of the Golden State Warriors. This July, she moved again to manage UBS Arena.

Stone has spent her career watching the arena hospitality landscape develop. “About 10 years ago, the trend became hyper-local: locally sourced, local restaurants, local flavors, local cuisine. That trend is still in the business,” she says. That commitment to hyper-local offerings has defined the experience at UBS, which opened in November 2021 as a partnership between Oak View Group, the New York Islanders and Jeff Wilpon.

“It’s a gorgeous facility that’s playing up to all of its expectations, especially in terms of the artist experience, the quality of the sound, and the experience that guests have when they come to the building,” Stone says. “For me, it’s been special to watch it continue to evolve.”

For concerts, UBS landed at No. 22 on the Billboard Boxscore Top Arenas chart in 2022 with an impressive 71 concerts, grossing $51 million, including shows by the Eagles, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles and Dua Lipa.

Stone points to mobile ticketing, online sports gambling and mobile ordering as important innovations that have changed the venue experience and ushered in a new era of high-tech security and retail automation systems. UBS Arena uses Amazon’s Just Walk Out technology, designed so that attendees can purchase their preferred food and drinks as fast as possible with minimal wait times and person-to-person interfacing. The venue’s updated menu uses locally-sourced ingredients and integrates trendy regional favorites to let people get a taste of more than just stereotypical stadium fare.

“Food and beverage is key to the overall experience that a guest has coming to a venue,” Stone says. “Food and beverage staff and items are one of the highest touchpoints, meaning something that almost everybody interacts with when they come to the venue. And especially at UBS, because we have the all-inclusive areas, as well, that are in the premium areas.”

The building is also mindful of visitors with special needs, featuring three sensory rooms developed by New York-based nonprofit Northwell Health that eliminate external noise and flashing lights. The trio of rooms is outfitted with equipment and furniture that give children a safe space to collect themselves and regulate overload.

UBS Arena recently joined the Green Operations and Advanced Leadership circle, a collective of major venues for live sports and entertainment venues committed to operating more sustainability, more urgently. UBS Arena has achieved carbon neutrality through the purchase of carbon and renewable energy credits, making it the first East Coast arena to do so.

The next goal is for the arena to become a zero-waste venue by the end of 2023, which would be achieved by diverting 90% of its waste from landfills. It is also working toward incorporating on-site solar generation.

“Every detail was covered and no expense was spared when it comes to the overall experience,” Stone says. “In terms of the marketplace, we are the best facility. We are the most beautiful facility. We have the most amenities.”