ELMONT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Despite delays because of the pandemic, there's hope construction on the new Belmont Park arena will be completed and ready for hockey next year.
Friday marked a milestone in the march to deliver thousands of jobs and billions in economic activity to Nassau County.
It was the "topping off" ceremony for the New York Islanders UBS Arena at Belmont Park.
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The hoisting of the highest steel beam brought emotions from Stanley Cup greats of old: Tonelli, Goring, Gillies.
"So much joy as we go and try to create the environment that's necessary to win that fifth ring," Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky said.
There was evidence everywhere that the $1.5 billion site is taking shape, hoping to grow a beloved homegrown franchise while building up the Elmont community for generations to come.
"Thousands upon thousands of jobs, it's close to the airports, it's next to the city, and it's really a shot in the arm for the economy," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
It's being touted as the last great arena built in New York of our generation, where people won't just come to a game, there will be live entertainment in a complex where people will park, eat, play and cheer.
"We designed this building specifically to be perfect for the Islanders and perfect for music. This will be one of the busiest music venues in all of the world," said Oak View Group Chief Executive Tim Leiweke.
It's all privately funded. So, too, is a brand new Belmont LIRR station.
Civic groups opposed the size and the scope of the project, worried it would worsen traffic, noise and pollution. Their lawsuits were eventually thrown out.
Now, many are rallying around it.
"It's definitely gonna bring more revenue to the area in a way that's gonna attract more people," barbershop owner Emmanuel Eugene told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan.
"One more year? Yeah, think the best, I hope a lot of people coming," restaurant manager Julia Bichaido said.
"This represents what will be a return to normalcy for this area," National Hockey League President Gary Bettman said.
The NHL hopes to drop the puck at the arena in November of 2021.
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