Will a new NHL franchise come to Forsyth County's proposed arena?

A stretch of land southern Forsyth County could be the future home of a new billion-dollar arena. A Georgia developer proposes converting more than 100-acres of open land at Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Union Hill Road near Georgia 400 into a multipurpose "live, work, play" venue.

The Gathering at South Forsyth would feature restaurants, stores, a business hotel, and residential units. A 750,000-square-foot arena would anchor the venue.

"It will be a multipurpose arena that has whatever you’ve seen in arenas, wherever you’ve been, we will be able to accommodate," said Carl Hirsh, managing partner of Stafford Sports, the consulting firm representing the landowner and local developer Vernon Krause. "The centerpiece of it will be an arena with about 18,000 seats."

The land was slated for a mall 15 years ago, but Krause now proposes the state-of-the art arena. "The whole project be about a $1.5 to $2 billion," Hirsh said. "It’s sort of tailor-made for us to adapt it to this kind of setting."

When asked if his team hoped to land an NHL franchise, Hirsh responded, "We’re hoping to make this the entertainment hub of north Georgia. If the NHL at some time decides they want to expand, we would love to talk to them about that."

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A new sporting arena and adjacent community that would rival Truist Park’s The Battery could be coming soon to Forsyth County. (Supplied)

Hirsh said it was too early to determine how the project would be funded or provide a timeline for when the venue would be built. 

Atlanta already has State Farm Arena, which seats just over 19,000 for basketball, just under 18,000 for ice hockey, and up to 22,000 for other live events. Right now, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are the only professional team to call the arena home. It was the home of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers from 1999 to 2011, before the team moved to Winnipeg. It also was briefly home to the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream.

In nearby Duluth, Gas South Arena can hold about 13,000 fans and is home to ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators and NLL’s Georgia Swarm.

When asked if metro Atlanta could support another major sports venue, Hirsh answered, "This is a growing market, one of the top markets in the U.S., and should be able to handle two venues."