Professional US ice hockey team Florida Panthers has financed $65m for the revitalisation of the War Memorial Auditorium along with a new ultra-modern practice and community ice facility in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, the US.

Revitalisation construction has already begun, and opening has been scheduled for Summer of 2022.

With the announcement originally made in April 2019, the Panthers privately funded $65m revitalisation of the War Memorial Auditorium is one of the largest revitalisation projects of a community space in South Florida, since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The private funding was made through a public-private partnership between Florida Panthers and the City of Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said: “War Memorial Auditorium has served as a pillar in our Fort Lauderdale community for more than 70 years, and its revitalisation will bring new life to an important and iconic social hub. This project will serve as an example of an innovative public-private partnership and will create a unique space for our residents to safely gather with each other once again. The project coupled with the renovation of Parker Playhouse and planned Holiday Park improvement projects will change the landscape of our city’s ‘Central Park’ and become a true centrepiece of our city. As a city we are beyond excited to welcome the Florida Panthers and excited to play a part in their success and in the growth of hockey and figure skating in our community.”

The historic War Memorial Auditorium stands as a tribute to military heroes and was first unveiled in 1950 as a popular entertainment venue.

Located on the western end of Fort Lauderdale’s 93-acre Holiday Park, the Auditorium has attracted lot of luminaries over the decades, including US Presidents and celebrity icons from world boxing champion Héctor Camacho to singer-songwriter Buddy Holly.

The Panthers-led revitalisation project plans to not only restore the iconic War Memorial Auditorium through adaptive reuse of its existing structure, but also transform Fort Lauderdale’s largest community park into a vibrant sports and entertainment destination for everyone.

Designed by ROSSETTI, the new 144,000 ft2 sports and entertainment venue will also fit in South Florida’s first-of-its-kind ballroom-style concert and performance auditorium, big enough to seat up to 3,800 people.

ROSSETTI CEO Matt Rossetti said: “Through the careful preservation of the War Memorial Auditorium’s historic design, the completed project will carefully balance existing civic, mid-century modern aesthetics with a new public arts overlay and multi-use spaces for community recreation and gathering. Working in lockstep with the Panthers, the project’s design will foster connectivity and diversity as a cornerstone, and seamlessly carry the War Memorial’s iconic legacy forward for years to come.”

The theatre has been redesigned without interfering with any of the classic art-deco character of the iconic War Memorial Auditorium. On the other hand, technical upgrades and new enhancements have been made to accommodate large-scale events.

Even after the revitalisation, the auditorium will continue as an honoured memorial for the Broward County community’s military veterans, managed under the watchful eye of the veteran-owned and led Florida Panthers.

Additions as part of the revitalisation include a state-of-the-art practice facility that provides two regulation-sized indoor ice rinks, with one of them a public rink for hockey programmes, public skating, and figure skating for members of the community.

Panthers President and CEO Matt Caldwell said: “We’re deeply committed to Broward County, and believe that the addition of this world-class sports & entertainment venue in the city of Fort Lauderdale will not only provide a unique and exciting opportunity for our players to connect with fans, but create a vibrant, centrally-located recreation destination where local families and members of the community can have fun and stay active. As we look to meet the demand of a rapidly-growing Florida hockey community, our youth hockey and hockey scholarship programming as part of this new facility will work to further diversity and inclusion by providing a younger, more diverse generation of local kids with increased access and exposure to the sport.”

The Panthers practice rink, which will be mainly used for training camps and to support community ice programming, will have stadium-like seating for up to 1,000 fans.


The private funding was made through a public-private partnership between Florida Panthers and the City of Fort Lauderdale. Credit: Rolando Otero/Pixabay.