Will hockey return to Atlanta for a third time?

16011040538 Thrashers at Predators

Over the last couple of months, there has been increasing buzz surrounding professional hockey returning to the Atlanta area. It all began when ESPN’s John Buccigross tweeted out that the city is on the front of the line when it comes to expansion, despite already having two teams in the past and failing to keep them.

Buccigross is as plugged in as they come when talking about the NHL, and there have been rumors about Atlanta hoping to get another shot at hockey ever since the Thrashers left for Winnipeg over a decade ago.

However, there’s not just smoke to this report; there is fire. Today, Zach Klein of WSB-TV in Atlanta confirmed that a new arena is coming to the Atlanta area.

It will be called “The Gathering” located in Forsyth County. The area will span over 100 acres, costing several billion dollars, and it will follow in the footsteps of The Battery, featuring a number of bars, shops, residential areas and restaurants around the arena, which is set to hold north of 18,000 people.

“It will have every amenity that you would expect from a modern arena. It will be built to be very fan- friendly. The guest amenities will be second to none. And it’ll be a very interactive space with a plaza out in front and just very welcoming kind of area,” managing partner of Stafford Sports Carl Hirsch said, via Zach Klein of WSB-TV. 

There is no questioning what the goal is with this new project. The plan is for hockey to return to Atlanta. Now, it’s up to the NHL, but when connecting the dots, it’s easy to become hopeful the city will get a third and likely final shot.

Based on the past, I understand why some might be hesitant that hockey will succeed this time around. However, if done right, Atlanta should have no problem keeping a team here for good. Better ownership will be key, but having an area like “The Gathering” will go a long way in driving crowds in bunches toward the arena. From there, it’s all about building a product worth watching. Given how other expansion teams have found success rather immediately in the NHL, this has the opportunity to be something fantastic for the city.

Hockey very well could be heading back to Atlanta!

Photo: Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire

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