New York Islanders Names Executive Team to Oversee New Arena

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The New York Islanders announced the executive team that’ll oversee their new Belmont Park Arena, which is scheduled to open for the 2021-22 National Hockey League season.

Tom Pistore, president of commercial operations, and Hank Abate, president of arena operations, will head the team for New York Arena Partners, the umbrella group funding the privately financed $1.3 billion development on property adjacent to Belmont Park racetrack in Elmont, N.Y.

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Chief financial officer Charles Groneman, general counsel Zachary Klein, and Lea del Rosario, senior VP of human resources, round out the group.

“This is going to be a world-class venue with a top executive team — Tom and Hank are highly respected throughout the industry and the perfect choices to lead us,” Tim Leiweke, chief executive of Oak View Group, a member of New York Arena Partners, said in a statement.

The nearly 19,000-seat arena is projected to cost $955 million, and is the linchpin of the mixed-use development that will include retail components on 43 acres owned by the state of New York.

New York Arena Partners is comprised of the owners of the Islanders, New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon, and Oak View Group, a Los Angeles-based arena development firm that is concurrently overseeing the $900 million renovation of Key Arena in Seattle where the NHL is planning to expand, also in time for the 2021-22 season.

Where the Islanders will play next season is unclear after Tuesday’s announcement that the Nassau Coliseum is closing. The hockey club had split its schedule this past season between their historic home and Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Islanders were anticipating playing their 41-game home schedule at the Coliseum, which was closed by billionaire former Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov because of financial considerations related to the ongoing Coronavirus.

Pistore’s resume includes more than 20 years at Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, where he was responsible for working across four different leagues with one of the largest sports organization’s in North America. He had been a senior business consultant to the Islanders.

Abate is, and will remain, president of facilities for Oak View Group, where for 20 years he has overseen development and operation of more than 120 sports facilities. Prior to that he was VP of venue management for Madison Square Garden.

Groneman, Klein and del Rosario will continue to work in similar capacities for the Islanders.

Barry M. Bloom is a reporter for Sportico, Penske Media’s new sports business platform.

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