The official opening of the Gateway Center Arena, new home of the College Park Skyhawks, the G-team affiliate of the Atlanta Hawks, as well as the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, is another indication that this south Fulton County city, as its mayor, Jack Longino said, has become the gateway for the entire Southern Crescent area south of Interstate 20.

“Can you believe what you are seeing?” Longino said when he opened his address to the crowd.

The $46 million venue, which is part of the Georgia International Convention Center, has a seating capacity of 3,500 fans for basketball games and more than 5,000 for concerts. It had its official ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 7, attended by more than 350 governmental, business and civic leaders from throughout south Fulton.

“When we opened the GICC 15 years ago, I said, ‘Wow,’ and now with this arena, I am again saying, ‘Wow,’” Longino said. “It is hard to believe that College Park has set the tone for the entire Southern Crescent and has done so with no obligation from our taxpayers.”

Following the ribbon-cutting, Longino led a number of College Park city leaders to the platform overlooking the arena to address the crowd before those in attendance were led on a tour of the facility.

The 100,000-square-foot arena will see the Skyhawks open their season Nov. 21 against the Delaware Blue Coats. The Dream will host their first game at the venue in May versus an opponent to be announced.

Longino said if those in attendance liked what they had seen in the arena, “There is a lot more to come for College Park.”

“We are the fourth largest hospitality district in the entire state of Georgia and by 2022, there will be 1,500 hotel rooms in this general area,” he said. “I think that is huge when you think about where we came from and where we are now.”

The mayor said he was proud of the work done by the city council and called each member a person of vision “without whom none of this could have been possible.”

College Park City Manager Terrance Moore also addressed the audience.

“You haven’t seen anything yet,” he said. “This arena is a tremendous achievement not only for this city, but for Georgia. We have a state-of-the-art arena, and with the College Park Skyhawks and the Atlanta Dream playing in this arena, this is our day.”

Ward III College Park City Councilman Tracey Wyatt, who is retiring in January after being on the council since first being elected in 2004, introduced former College Park Councilman Joe Carn, who was elected the District 6 Fulton County commissioner in October.

“I want to thank all of the city of College Park employees for the work they have done because, as we always say, the people who get the work done are the employees,” Wyatt said. “I want to thank them and all those who made this arena possible.”

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