Iceplex becomes community hub for hockey in South Florida

The Florida Panthers recently opened their new practice facility, the Baptist Health Iceplex, in the historic FTL War Memorial in Fort Lauderdale, a state-of-the-art facility that includes two regulation-sized skating rinks. 

The “iceplex” at FTL War Memorial next to Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park offers an array of activities such as public skating, figure skating, and various youth and adult hockey programs. 

Although the Iceplex just opened to the public on March 21, the Panthers made the move to the new practice facility last December and have held all their practices there since.

The 144,000-square-foot facility features 11 locker rooms and a 7,500-square-foot Panthers team retail store named Pantherland, where fans can stock up on team merchandise or upgrade their hockey equipment.

The youth hockey manager at the Iceplex is Jamie Allison, an 11-year National Hockey League player who was drafted by the Calgary Flames in 1993 and spent a short stint with the Panthers near the end of his playing career.

Allison now devotes his time preparing the next generation of hockey players. He said the Iceplex is just what South Florida needs to increase interest on the ice. 

“There’s a lot of excitement,’’ Allison said. “I think it’s been a little bit of a surprise to the people in the neighborhood not really knowing that we’re actually open. Slowly the marketing is starting to get out there and people are hearing more and more. The  opening event was jam-packed here.’’

Hockey may not have the same history as it does in colder climates, but passion for the Panthers and the sport is growing, he said. 

“It’s a non-traditional hockey market down here so kids and parents are just looking for a little direction, what to do, what’s available and that’s what we’re here for,” he said. “Now with the Panthers doing well it’s growing in popularity, and I think it’ll continue to grow.”

In addition to hockey amenities, the center includes “The Federal,” a full-service restaurant, which is set to open by the end of April, complete with a bar and outdoor patio overlooking Holiday Park’s pickleball courts and roller rinks.

“Ever since moving to South Florida it’s been a struggle finding somewhere to play hockey, and now you’re telling me I get to share a rink with the guys I look up to the most, I can’t think of anything better,” said Aidan Mueller, a hockey fan and patron at the Iceplex since its opening.

The Baptist Health Iceplex represents a significant investment by the Florida Panthers in not only their team but the community.

If you go

The Iceplex is located at 800 NE Eighth St. in Fort Lauderdale. 

General admission skating costs $17 and $14 military service members.

Skate rentals cost $5. Skating aids are available for $10 an hour and are subject to availabilty.

Sebastian Cuervo is a senior majoring in digital journalism with a focus in sports journalism. After his studies, he wishes to pursue a career as an on-air sports analyst.