The Florida Panthers will be moving to the east side of town in the near future after breaking ground on a new training facility at War Memorial Auditorium in Fort Lauderdale.
The team is targeting to have the state-of-the-art facility, one that will feature two ice sheets and stadium seating for team workouts, open before training camp starts in 2022.
The Panthers may even have their development and rookie camps at the complex if it opens, as planned, in June.
”That’s the month Vinnie is holding me to,” team president Matt Caldwell said.
Tuesday’s ceremony brought out the team’s biggest names (Vinnie and Teresa Viola, Caldwell, Joel Quenneville, Bill Zito, Roberto Luongo, Brett Peterson, Peter Worrell and Shawn Thornton) as well as elected city and county officials.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who has a home in Palm Beach County, was also on hand.
The group broke ground using Florida Panthers game-used hockey sticks with engraved gold-plated shovel tips bolted on.
Owner Vinnie Viola got captain Sasha Barkov’s stick.
”The job is not done, the mission is not complete and will not be until we’re standing up here with the Stanley Cup,” Viola told the large group of invited dignitaries who attended the event at Holiday Park.
“Champion cities deserve champions and this is a champion city. … This is a magnificent place and we will win the Stanley Cup. That is our commitment to you. I’m going to end by thanking everyone. And from the bottom of my heart and my wife’s heart, we very honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve this community.”
The ceremony was not just to celebrate the opening of a new training facility.
No, it was more to commemorate the Panthers’ continued eastward push through Broward County — and a burgeoning relationship with Fort Lauderdale.