A new arena in Athens that would host the Georgia Ice Dawgs is in the works, as it was one of the projects included in a recently approved initiative.
In November, voters approved a Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax (SPLOST) that would leverage funding for a broad list of projects, including the arena. With $34 million in SPLOST revenue acting as a funding source, the 5,500-seat arena would be built at The Classic Center. It would host home games for the Ice Dawgs, a non-varsity intercollegiate team that competes in the SECHC, while also being positioned as a draw for other sporting events, concerts, family shows, conventions, and more.
There are still some details that need to be solidified, as the arena does not yet have an estimated completion date. Still, it is expected that the new arena will be a boost to the Ice Dawgs by improving the team’s facility situation. More from The Red & Black:
In July 2019, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission added a proposal to provide $34 million toward the construction of a new arena at The Classic Center to the Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax 2020 project list. Voters approved the project — one with a larger permanent seating capacity of 5,500 — when they passed the SPLOST 2020 referendum in November. Concerts and other entertainment events will also be held in the future arena, which doesn’t have an expected completion date yet, Director of Arena and Ancillary Services Danny Bryant said.
It gives the Ice Dawgs a permanent home for games and creates a significant advantage for future players, as they won’t have to resort to practicing on the local YMCA field before the ice rink is put together in October. The new arena will remain within walking distance from North Campus.
The arena will also play a role in attracting potential players. It creates an advantage against other schools in the SECHC, like Florida, which practices and plays in Jacksonville, Florida, nearly 75 miles away from its campus in Gainesville, Florida.
“The arena is going to validate and put a big stamp on what we’re trying to build,” head coach Rick Emmett said. “Players from coast to coast will take notice about being able to play a club sport that has the facilities that we’ll have.”
The Ice Dawgs currently play most home games at Akins Ford Arena at The Classic Center, though the team also stages some contests at The Classic Center’s Foundry Pavilion– a 22,000 square foot outdoor and covered venue.