The new arena in College Park, which will host the Atlanta Hawks development team, will bring a "whole new tone" to metro Atlanta cities south of I-20, Mayor Jack Longino said at a Monday groundbreaking.
The facility will be known as the Gateway Center at College Park, and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019. The 5,000-seat arena will cost $42 million. For Hawks development team games, it will seat 3,500 people.
Longino said that the 100,000-square-foot sports arena is the first of its kind south of I-20 in terms of access and capacity. It will host graduations, concerts, high school and college tournaments and other events, in addition to the Hawks' team, which has been described as an anchor tenant.
The Hawks will use the facility for about 10 percent of the year, Longino said. Additionally, it will help draw more business to the Georgia International Convention Center, which it will be adjacent to.
"I think it's going to be huge," Longino said. "It's a whole different type of space for rental."
Some residents opposed the project, citing its price tag and the fact that the city's convention center costs more than it takes in.
They objected to the project, delaying its start by about two weeks.
Longino said the Gateway Center will be paid for largely with rental car taxes and other money from tourists, in addition to $9 million from the general fund. He said most facilities like this don't make money, but serve to bring a certain prestige to an area. The Gateway Arena, he said, isn't an economic development engine, but will bring to the south side of Fulton County entertainment options that are already in Atlanta and north Fulton.
Longino said the city knows what it's getting into with the project.
"It isn't a Cobb County thing where now we're going to be raising taxes," he said.
Some residents said they are excited about the impact the project will have on the area. Perry Ford Jr., who lives in College Park, said he expects the project to bring more jobs to the city. The project will bring an estimated 600 jobs to College Park.
Kashena Adams, who also lives in College Park, is a community liaison for an alternative high school, and said she's excited for those teens to see the development team close to home.
"I can't wait to come to the games," she said. "It's like we're bringing Atlanta to our kids."
In addition to the arena project, the city is planning a broad development renaissance. Artie Jones III, executive director of Clearly College Park, the city's development authority, said the arena will rise within walking distance of what the city hopes will eventually become a $1 billion, 300-plus-acre mixed use development along Camp Creek Parkway and Herschel Road. The land includes the College Park Golf Course
The land once was owned by the city of Atlanta, but College Park acquired it over the past couple of decades.
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