Panthers officially open state-of-the-art facility in Fort Lauderdale

By
Jameson Olive

@JamesonCoop
FloridaPanthers.com

FORT LAUDERDALE – The Florida Panthers needed more ribbon.

Nearly three years after breaking ground in May of 2021, the organization celebrated the official opening of the all-new Baptist Health IcePlex at FTL War Memorial on Thursday.

With over 200 guests in attendance, the opening is an achievement shared by many.

“We did like five different ribbon cuttings,” Panthers President & CEO Matthew Caldwell said. “It was wonderful to bring all these people out. Very, very grateful for their participation”

Sharing in the celebration, numerous guests that played a role in helping the new facility come to life were in attendance, including local city officials such as Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and key executives from Baptist Health.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Caldwell said. “A lot of hard work went into this place.”

It certainly shows.

A state-of-the-art facility with two NHL-regulation sized ice rinks (Baptist Health Rink and SeatGeek Rink), the Baptist Health IcePlex will serve as one of the premier hubs for families in the community and give the Panthers a foothold in the middle of downtown.

Want to hit the ice? The wait is over.

Baptist Health IcePlex will open to the general public starting Thursday, March 21 from 1-8 p.m. ET with afternoon and evening programming slated for each day for the rest of March.

At FTLWarMemorial.com, registration is already open for a variety of programming, including public skating sessions, Panthers Skating and Hockey Academy Spring classes, Adult Hockey Leagues, summer camps, “Try Hockey For Free” programs and much.

Nestled in the heart of Holiday Park, ice and sunshine will now cohabitate.

“Imagine having a park like this when you were a kid. It’s unbelievable,” Panthers General Manager Bill Zito said with a big smile. “There’s so much to do. You can tell from the community chit-chat that happened before the event just how much the people really appreciate this and are going to use this. Kids that want to play hockey are going to be able come here and learn. If that isn’t enough, now we have this beautiful home for our team.”

As the unofficial beta testers of the facility, Panthers players, who’ve been practicing at the Baptist Health IcePlex since December, can’t say enough good things about their new digs.

“The facility is awesome,” forward Carter Verhaeghe said. “They did such a good job. We’re so lucky to be at this world-class facility – the gym, two sheets of ice, everything. We’re lucky to play here and be Florida Panthers.”

Soon, fans will also be able to watch the team practice in person once again.

“You can show up at your local park and watch NHL superstars practice,” Zito said. “The possibilities are endless. … I can’t be more appreciative of the Violas and Matt Caldwell and what they’ve done since I’ve been here, pounding this thing day after day after day.”

While there’s still some work to be done at the Baptist Health IcePlex, Pantherland powered by FLA Team Shop will be open from 12-4 p.m. ET from March 21-April 5.

Additionally, the Panthers will host a Community Festival on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET where locals can try select programming for free, enjoy food trucks, games and more.

In late-April, The Federal, a full-service restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio operated by Knallhart Management Group, will officially open its doors inside Baptist Health IcePlex.

“We see this as a communal hub, bringing everyone together,” Caldwell said.

It’s that commitment to togetherness that encapsulates what the Baptist Health IcePlex is all about.

As Zito pointed out, a facility like this is about a team, and a team is more than just the players on the ice and the coaches behind the bench. It’s the fans, the families and the local community that make the Panthers the special organization that it is.

In short, Mayor Trantalis summed it up best prior to the ribbon being cut this afternoon.

“Go Cats!”

For more information on the new facility, click HERE.