Build it, and the National Hockey League will come?
That is the question in South Forsyth County.
WSB-TV reports a metro Atlanta businessman is leading a development team that hopes to remake 100 rolling, empty acres surrounded by housing into a mixed-use entertainment district called The Gathering at South Forsyth.
At The Gathering’s core would be a 750,000-square-foot, indoor arena with a seating capacity of more than 18,000—or what project leaders feel would be an optimal size for enticing an NHL franchise to the northern ’burbs, following the Atlanta Thrashers' departure in 2011, the news station reports.
In terms of acreage, the potentially multi-billion-dollar The Gathering would dwarf The Battery Atlanta’s 60 acres, which were also transformed from vacant suburban land into a lifestyle district anchored by a pro sports franchise, the Atlanta Braves.
The 100-acre Forsyth County site in question is located just south of the Halcyon mixed-use district and east of Ga. Highway 400, where Union Hill Road meets Ronald Reagan Boulevard.
Leading the push to build The Gathering is property owner Vernon Krause, who owns a chain of car dealerships around the Southeast. Krause is working on the proposal with consulting firm Stafford Sports, whose portfolio includes several arena projects that are currently home to NHL teams, including Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena, and New York City’s Madison Square Garden, as Channel 2 sports editor Zach Klein reports.
Stafford Sports reps tell the news station The Gathering would be fan-friendly in every regard, to include an interactive plaza in front. Naturally, Forsyth County government leaders sound giddy at the prospects but, like the developer, aren’t yet guaranteeing the entertainment complex will spawn NHL hockey games in far north OTP Atlanta.
The site is about 29 miles from State Farm Arena, where the Thrashers used to play downtown.
Discussions between the development group and county officials have begun, and Krause estimates the project would take three years to complete following a groundbreaking. (Find project renderings and more details on WSB’s homepage here.)
The Gathering wouldn’t be Forsyth County’s only grandiose project proposal in recent years.
Alongside the growing Halcyon mixed-use district, a spring-and-spa concept billed as being like nothing else in North America bubbled up last year, while an entirely new town center for the Coal Mountain community is planned on the opposite side of Ga. Highway 400 near Lake Lanier.
Elsewhere, an elaborate Forsyth sports complex called Winners Circle Park is envisioned as becoming a national destination.
Follow us on social media:
• Forsyth County news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)