Could 2024 bring tidings in the form of metro Atlanta’s third National Hockey League franchise? If so, will that third time be a charm?

There’s no definitive answer to those questions yet, but recent rumblings suggest big things are moving forward in Forsyth County—and that the NHL is warming to the idea of Atlanta getting another shot at a local pro team, this time in the suburbs.

Kevin Weekes, an NHL analyst for ESPN and NHL Network relayed on Wednesday a “potential expansion update” regarding the hockey league adding its 33rd team north of Atlanta. According to Weekes, the multi-billion-dollar The Gathering at South Forsyth project—which is set to include an arena—is progressing “ahead full speed with the design moving quickly and interviews for builders taking place.”

That’s not the only positive news for metro Atlanta pro hockey proponents. According to NHL news source Hockey Feed, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly recently stated during a media tour he believes an expansion team in Atlanta “would yield better results than two previous failed expansion teams in the market.” The city’s Flames relocated to Calgary in 1980, and following a dozen years in downtown Atlanta, the Thrashers decamped to Winnipeg in 2011.

None of this means the NHL is going to expand, or that ATL would benefit from such a move. But as Britain’s Daily Mail points out this week, metro Atlanta’s population has swollen by another 1.4 million people since the Thrashers skedaddled to Canada—making it the second largest U.S. market without a pro hockey team right now, following only Houston. U.S. Soccer’s recent decision to relocate its headquarters to Atlanta and build a massive facility near Trilith might also bode well for the city’s NHL chances, the newspaper opines.  

The Gathering at South Forsyth; designs, SCI Architects

Expected to cost in the ballpark of $2 billion, The Gathering qualifies as one of the largest private development proposals in suburban Atlanta history. The project’s 80-acre site—located along Ga. Highway 400, where Ronald Reagan Boulevard meets Union Hill Road—was originally rezoned for a regional mall development 15 years ago that didn’t take off.

The project, which remains under county review, was applauded by the Atlanta Regional Commission in September for its relative density, plans to build less parking than what’s allowed, and its prospects as an engine for job growth.

The future location of pregame (or it is pre-match) hoopla? The Gathering at South Forsyth; designs, SCI Architects

Frank Ferrara, who was hired this year as The Gathering’s senior project executive, formerly led Arizona State University’s ice hockey program. There, he spearheaded the school’s efforts to select the development team for the 5,000-seat, on-campus Mullet Arena and the Mountain America Community Iceplex. (At 750,000 square feet, however, The Gathering’s planned arena would be nearly four times larger.)

Early plans for the rest of the Forsyth County district have called for about 1.6 million square feet of office and retail space, 450 hotel rooms, 2,400 residential units, a 100,000-square-foot community center, a new fire station, and a 1.2-mile connective trail along the Big Creek Greenway.

Where the Gathering at South Forsyth arena and other buildings would be located next to Ga. Highway 400. The Gathering at South Forsyth; designs, Nelson


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