When UBS Arena was being built, it not only meant that the Islanders were finally going to have a new state-of-the-art home on Long Island, but it also signaled the opportunity for the Island to attract major sports and entertainment events to the region.

The Islanders had their sights set on hosting marquee NHL events, and they have come through in a big way.

Major Milestone: Long Island to host NHL All-Star Weekend

While the Islanders were playing in the Stadium Series game this past Sunday against the Rangers at MetLife Stadium, the NHL announced that the Islanders and UBS Arena would host the 2026 NHL All-Star Weekend.

The hockey world will be coming to Long Island!

“I’m very proud and very pleased,” said Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman. “UBS Arena is probably one of the nicest arenas in the world, and the Islanders are a very storied franchise here in Nassau County.”

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin agrees.

“It’s a great opportunity for the beautiful arena to showcase for the entire weekend,” said Clavin. “It’s going to be a real plus for the region hotel-wise and guest-wise. We’re over the top, and I couldn’t be any happier for the organization.”

Nassau County has been no stranger to hosting big sports events.

Golf tournaments like the U.S. Open and PGA Championship have been played on Long Island, and the Ryder Cup is coming in 2025. This year, the International Cup Cricket Tournament will be played at Eisenhower Park at a temporary stadium that will be built. The Belmont Stakes has called Long Island home, and after the new Belmont Park Racetrack is completed, the Triple Crown race will return to Long Island from its temporary stay at Saratoga.

Economic Impact: Anticipated boom for Long Island

And now, the NHL All-Star Game is coming for the first time since 1983 at Nassau Coliseum. Back then, the event was just a game and was played on a Tuesday night. Now, it’s a whole weekend of activities with a fan fest, media day, skills competition, and the game. That means that UBS Arena, the entire Belmont Park campus, the nearby community in Elmont, and the entire Long Island region will be filled with hockey fans, players, media, and staff both locally and from around North America.

Nassau County is ready.

“We’re becoming a destination for major sports events,” said Blakeman. “This is just another jewel in Nassau County’s crown. I think it’s great to really spotlight all the great things we have in Nassau County. It’s a great place, and we’re not seen anymore as just a stepchild of New York City. We are becoming an international destination.”

The announcement that Long Island would be getting the 2026 All-Star Weekend may have come as a surprise to some.

It wasn’t that long ago when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that UBS Arena would be in line to host major NHL events once the Belmont Park Village and the anticipated hotel are completed. The retail village is expected to open this summer, but there hasn’t been anything announced yet as far as a hotel.

But apparently, the Islanders made a compelling bid to host the game and have satisfied the NHL’s needs.

So, Long Island is ready for an economic boom in two years.

“Regionally, it’s a tremendous shot in the arm between the hotel stays on (Long) Island to the restaurants in the area,” said Clavin. “People are going to come in and spend their money, not only in the town but in the region, so it’s a win for everybody.”

Blakeman expects the local restaurants to be filled with celebrities and other high net-worth individuals.

“We want you to come to Nassau County and spend a lot of money, and with these types of sporting events like the NHL All-Star Game, you get a lot of high net-worth individuals, not just from around America but from around the world,” said Blakeman.

Community Transformation: UBS Arena and beyond

NHL All-Star Weekend will have a significant impact on the very town in which the event will take place. When the plans for the arena were announced, and even when it was under construction, there was a lot of pushback from residents in the community who didn’t think the project would be a good idea. Fast forward a couple of years since UBS Arena opened, and things seem to be going well.

With the retail village set to open and the new racetrack on the horizon, these are good times in the community.

“It has been a boost for Elmont,” said Clavin. “That development has been such a success for that region. The residents have put in place, with the town, parking restrictions that have seen to really benefit them and have alleviated any of their concerns about people parking in front of their houses or driveways.”

“Elmont is an amazing community,” said Blakeman, who grew up in nearby Valley Stream. “It’s a great community, a diverse community, and it’s a very vibrant community. There’s just a lot of opportunities to enjoy everything that Nassau County has to offer.”

While the Islanders continue to work towards bringing a fifth Stanley Cup to Long Island, it’s easy to see that the franchise has come a long way in the last decade. They have strong ownership, a brand-new arena, and a revitalized fan base. There was a time when the thought of an All-Star Game coming to Long Island seemed like a pipedream.

And now, it’s reality.

“It started with this ownership,” said Clavin. “It started with them embracing the fans all over again. To culminate and now be hosting the All-Star game in ’26 is that cherry on top.”

“Nothing would make me happier than to see the Islanders raise that Stanley Cup here in Nassau County,” added Blakeman. “I like the direction in which the franchise is going.”

And now that the Islanders franchise is thriving and they have attracted the All-Star Game to their wonderful new arena, one has to wonder what might be next for Nassau County and Long Island when it comes to attracting sports.

Could there be some more available land for, say, a stadium for the Jets?

“Woody Johnson…if you’re listening, give me a call,” said Blakeman.

Top: Cars pass UBS Arena before an NCAA basetball game between St. John’s and Connecticut Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

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