FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Florida Panthers and the City of Fort Lauderdale have teamed up and broken ground on a major new project.
They’re calling it a state-of-the-art practice and community ice facility, and it will be located in the heart of Downtown Fort Lauderdale.
On Tuesday, the team held an official groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the old Fort Lauderdale War Memorial. Renderings of the project were also released.
The new facility will be called the Baptist Health Iceplex.
It will be nearly 145,000 square feet in size and include a concert venue in addition to two regulation sized ice rinks: one for the Panthers and one for the public.
Panthers owner Vinny Viola spoke at the event and let fans know that the team, which is currently battling in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, will always be focused on its primary objective.
“The job is not done. The mission is not complete. It will not be until were standing up here with the Stanley Cup,” Viola said. “Champion cities deserve champions. This is a champion city. These are champion regions.”
The Iceplex will also feature a new restaurant, fitness and recreation spaces and upgrades to the existing facilities as well.
The Panthers new facility will take the place of the Coral Springs Ice Den, where the Panthers have trained and practiced since the late 1990s when it was purchased by former team owner H. Wayne Huizenga.
Back then, it was called Incredible Ice.
Fast forward to present day and one of the things that has always been really central to the leadership of the current Panthers ownership and organization as a whole is a connection to the military.
Naturally, combining the team’s new practice facility and the historic War Memorial Auditorium made perfect sense.
“The mayor Fort Lauderdale thought of us because he knows we love vets,” said Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell. “This is a facility that’s been a little rundown, down through the years, hasn’t gotten a lot of investment. It started as a veteran tribute, and somehow we landed on a whole practice facility, two sheets of ice, live music. It all started with veterans at the end of the day.”
The new facility is expected to be finished sometime during the summer of 2022.