Alongside million-dollar condos and transformative mixed-use development, a versatile arena has entered downtown Athens’ construction pipeline that’s being billed as nothing short of “Northeast Georgia’s premier event facility.”  

The Classic Center Arena has broken ground on N. Thomas Street near University of Georgia’s North Campus and other landmarks that include the Athens Banner-Herald building.  

Designed by Perkins + Will and Smallwood, the new arena is angling to become a regional destination for music, sports, entertainment, and other events, with 5,500 permanent seats and the ability to hold up to 8,500 people for in-the-round shows—or 9,000 for basketball.

The Classic Center's 300 N. Thomas Street location in downtown Athens, a couple of blocks from University of Georgia's campus. Google Maps

The venue will provide a new option for concerts, conventions, tournaments, and other events, plus a larger arena for the University of Georgia Club Hockey team. An ECHL hockey team has also formally signed on to call the arena home.

The project’s estimated cost is $126 million, with $33 million of that funded via SPLOST. It’ll join the multi-use The Classic Center, which includes a performing arts theater, conference center, and an outdoor pavilion for weddings, concerts, and sports.

“The new arena will be built into the foundation of downtown Athens,” reads the official spiel, “echoing the college town, its rich music history, outstanding clubs, restaurants, and breweries, along with walkable access to hotels, making Athens a winning destination for all types of events.”

Courtesy of The Classic Center

Officials say The Classic Center Arena will create 600 jobs and generate 90,000 more hotel room nights annually, with an overall impact of $30 million per year. It’s expected to open for business sometime next year.

See a preview of what’s to come in the above gallery.

Meet a downtown Athens condo project with prices starting(!) at $1.3M (Urbanize Atlanta)