The BankAtlantic Center (previously known as Broward County Civic Arena, National Car Rental Center and Office Depot Center) is an indoor arena located in Sunrise, Florida, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, near the popular Sawgrass Mills Mall. The arena is easily accessible from the Sawgrass Expressway at the Oakland Park Boulevard exit. The arena is home to the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League and the Florida Pit Bulls of the American Basketball Association.
The arena was completed in 1998 at a cost of $185 million, almost entirely publicly financed. The arena features 70 suites and 2,300 club seats.
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.
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.