The search for a new arena began in 1993, when H.Wayne Huizenga obtained the new franchise for the Florida Panthers Hockey Team. The search process became a fast-track development strategy when the site in Sunrise, Florida was selected in June, 1996.
In July, 1996, Alex Muxo gathered more than a dozen architects, engineers and contractors for the first major design brainstorming session. Time was of the essence. A state-of-the-art arena had to be built by August 30, 1998, to accommodate the fall 1998 Hockey Season.
Architects Ellerbe Becket were given the 26-month time frame. They had never designed a facility that had taken less than 31 months from start to finish. They accepted the challenge.
Walter “Budge” Upton, Director of Construction for Arena Development Company, led the construction team of Centex/Rooney Huber, Hunt & Nichols and Morse Diesel. Together, they had to determine and coordinate a myriad of details to get the job completed on schedule. For months, workers were building the arena in two shifts, including weekends.
More than 600 construction workers set masonry, erected drywall, ran plumbing lines, installed air conditioning and ran miles of conduit for the electrical systems. Nearly 500 workers installed 19,000 theater style cushioned seats, carpeting and tile.
Seventy suites were completed with wet bars, closed circuited monitors and leather upholstery. Averaging over 650 square feet, the suites are the largest in the country for this type of facility.
All the activity was generated by over 50 subcontractors and 2.3 million man hours without a single injury.
The end result reflects the youthful, confident and dynamic character of the Florida Panthers Hockey Team, as well as, an effective civic image for a full range of entertainment offerings.