New York Islanders want virus-killing air systems installed in arena

UBS Arena will become home to the New York Islanders.

Source: New York Islanders/UBS Arena

The New York Islanders hockey team hopes new air filtration technology will eliminate airborne viruses inside the new $1.5 billion UBS Arena, which is scheduled to open in November 2021.

Tim Leiweke, the CEO of arena development firm Oak View Group, told CNBC the building will include air cleaning technology in four corners of the arena where giant HVAC systems are located. It plans to spend $2 million and is partnering with ME Engineering on the systems and architecture firm Populous.

“The long-term solution is going to be medicine, treatment, and vaccine,” added Leiweke. “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?”

The tech circulates air and zaps viruses with high-intensity UV lighting, cleaning the air before its pumped back into breathing spaces.

Leiweke said similar systems are used in smaller spaces like locker rooms throughout the National Football League and in hospitals.

“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,” Leiweke said. “These are the sort 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?”

Since the pandemic began, sports teams have researched virus-killing solutions, including air cleaners, as indoor-based leagues hope to attract spectators back for 2020-21 seasons. 

The University of Houston created air filters to trap and kill viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. The filter uses a unique heated nickel foam material, which helps destroy viruses.

Climate Pledge Arena rendering

Source: Amazon

With demand growing due to the pandemic, the HVAC filters market is projected to become a $7.1 billion market by 2025, up from its current $5.5 billion value.

The pandemic has delayed construction on the Elmont facility, pushing its scheduled debut in 2021 by two months. UBS Arena is expected to be ready in time for the National Hockey League’s 2021-22 season.

Leiweke said OVG, which is also developing the Seattle Kraken’s home, Climate Pledge Arena, will also look to eliminate numerous “touchpoints” throughout buildings. The firm wants to explore items such as antimicrobial door handles and create more “grab and go” concepts at concession stands using cashless systems.

“Some of this will be in place when we open up both Seattle and New York,” Leiweke added. “The future of these buildings will not be league certified. It’ll be sustainability, sanitization, safety-diversity certified. We’re spending money now to get ahead of that because that’s what people are going to care about in your building.”

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