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Posted on: April 29, 2022

The Classic Center Celebrates Ceremonial Groundbreaking for New Arena

Elected Officials and Paul Cramer


(Athens, GA)-The Classic Center, JE Dunn, and Perkins & Will ceremonially broke ground on a great addition to the city, April 28, 2022. Several members of the community, media, and politicians gathered for this exciting moment. Construction equipment moved on site this past January to begin work for the new arena that is slated to open in November 2023. The new opportunities that will be brought to downtown Athens will create a remarkable experience for all visitors and community members to enjoy.

For the past 25 years, The Classic Center’s mission has been to enhance the quality of life in Athens-Clarke County by serving as the cultural, civic, and social center of the Southease and by generating maximum economic impact. The new arena will continue THe Classic Center's mission along with generating more jobs for the Athens area while focusing on sustainability and green energy.


“I am so excited that together we are breaking ground on a project that will drive millions in economic impact in Clarke County,” said Paul Cramer, President/CEO of The Classic Center. “This project will create over 600 new jobs, link downtown Athens to the Oconee River, and will provide an estimated $33 million in annual economic impact.” 

Speakers at the ceremonial groundbreaking included Ryan Brinson, Chair of The Classic Center Authority Board; Kelly Girtz, Mayor of Athens-Clarke County; Houston Gaines, Georgia House Representative; Senator Bill Cowsert; Toby Graham, University of Georgia Librarian; Mark Jaronski, Deputy Commissioner of Explore Georgia; Paul Cramer, President/CEO of The Classic Center; Fred Tull, Senior Project Manager of JE Dunn; Don Dethlefs, Principal Architect at Perkins & Will; Philip Bettendorf, Chair of Elevate Campaign; Danny Bryant, The Classic Center Arena General Manager; and Sims Hinds, Senior Vice President of Development at Oak View Group.  

The new arena will bring in tourism opportunities through The Georgia Music Hall of Fame creating a museum-quality experience. The arena will also be home to The UGA Ice Dawgs, an ECHL team, and used as a learning lab. The Classic Center is excited about the future opportunities that this arena guarantees for the Athens community starting in 2023. 

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Located in Athens, Georgia, The Classic Center is a multi-use conference center, performing arts theatre, multi-purpose arena and outdoor, covered pavilion hosting conventions, conferences, meetings, weddings, concerts, sporting tournaments and special events for up to 6,000 people.

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