Perhaps you missed the bombshell development news this week that a billion-dollar entertainment megaplex called The Gathering at South Forsyth is percolating at a 100-acre site along Ga. Highway 400 in Forsyth County.
Nobody’s guaranteeing the 18,000-seat arena planned as the heart of that district will snag Atlanta’s first National Hockey League team since the Thrashers skedaddled to Canada in 2011. But if it does, that team is going to need a catchy name.
Which begs the question: What should (metro) Atlanta’s third pro hockey team be called?
For inspiration, let’s rewind to 2015, when Mercedes-Benz Stadium was under construction, Atlanta had finally been awarded an MLS franchise, and Falcons team owner “Uncle” Arthur Blank promised that suggestions from fans (potential season ticket holders, all) would be considered when choosing the new MLS franchise’s name.
Before Atlanta United FC became the official (and arguably safe) pick, marketing firm Iris Worldwide came up with a few more—uh—colorful suggestions that ultimately didn’t fly, for better or worse:
Before waxing prophetic about ATL’s next hypothetical NHL club moniker, let’s consider the facts:
The Gathering complex would be built about 29 miles from downtown Atlanta, near the Halcyon live-work-play district.
Forsyth County—one of Georgia’s fastest growing counties, now home to a quarter-million people—is known as a diversifying place with upscale housing and enviable access to Lake Lanier, helping to overshadow a history of overt racism that became national news in the 1980s.
Now owned by Vernon Krause, CEO of Krause Auto Group, the vacant site in question was supposed to be a regional mall 15 years ago—but those development plans never took off.
The Gathering will aim for a “similar caliber” of other new master-planned districts such as Halcyon and Alpharetta’s Avalon, officials said this week. Road-widening projects in the area and a new Ga. Highway 400 interchange, they hope, will help mitigate traffic impacts near The Gathering and arena.
MARTA and its OTP government partners are pushing plans for a new bus-rapid transit system up Ga. Highway 400, but that transportation option would end in Fulton County—one exit short of the arena's.
Forsyth’s county seat is Cumming, but the arena would be situated closer to Alpharetta’s award-winning downtown (roughly six miles to the southwest) than Cumming’s.
So let’s pretend it’s 2027, and you’re headed way north to catch NHL hockey again in metro Atlanta. What’s the front of your jersey say?
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