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Groundbreaking signals next phase of Event Center

By Cody Bush

APSU Athletics Communications

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – On Thursday, the site of the future Montgomery County Multi-Purpose Event Center was crawling with activity.

But it wasn’t construction work causing the ruckus; it was the coming together of the Smashville, Stacheville, Clarksville, and Montgomery County communities to celebrate the start of a long-awaited two-year construction project.

Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett, Clarksville Mayor Joe Pitts, Austin Peay Director of Athletics Gerald Harrison, and Predators Vice President Danny Butler put shovels into the dirt on a bright sunny day in downtown Clarksville and brought the MPEC one step closer to fruition.

Austin Peay will be the primary tenant in the new facility after signing a 30-year lease in October. At just shy of 280,000 square feet, the facility will house offices for the men and women’s basketball coaching staffs, a practice arena for the exclusive use of the Austin Peay basketball programs. The main arena bowl will offer luxury suite accommodations with dedicated catering, a club level on par with the one at Fortera Stadium, and enhanced concession offerings. Altogether, the new facility will transform Governors home basketball contests into one of the top experiences in the Ohio Valley Conference—across all sports.

“It is a great day to be a Gov, more than that it is a great day to be a resident of Clarksville and Montgomery County,” said Harrison. “We are excited to partner with Montgomery County, Clarksville, and the Nashville Predators. This project is an example of dynamic leadership at work for the greater good of our community.

“Austin Peay basketball improved the day we signed the lease and will continue to improve every day a shovel goes into the dirt and every beam of steel that hits the ground. I am confident that without question, we will have the best basketball facility in the country. I’m looking forward to having a little Smashville in Stacheville.”

The facility, slated to open in time for the start of the 2022-23 basketball season, is slated to become the crown jewel of downtown Clarksville. In addition to its status as the home of the Governor basketball programs, the MPEC – official name still pending – will host sporting events, concerts, banquets, conventions, trade shows, and other events. The multi-level venue will feature a separate sheet of ice used for youth and adult hockey leagues and figure skating. The ‘multi-purpose’ part of the MPEC is no misnomer; by Fall 2022, downtown Clarksville will be an entertainment district unlike any Montgomery County has ever seen.

“If anyone remembers when Bridgestone Arena first opened on the corner of Fifth and Broadway, there was not a lot going on down on Lower Broadway,” Butler said. “If you look at it now, you can see that on a global scale, Lower Broadway has changed and around Bridgestone Arena has changed. If you look at the economic impact by both Bridgestone Arena and the Ford Ice Centers have made, it changes the landscape of Middle Tennessee. That is what can happen here.”

In October, the Predators signed a contract to manage the facility, leaving the organization responsible for its overall day-to-day operations. Additionally, the Predators will be charged with booking the facility and finding all the appropriate sponsors and partners to bring the venue to life and make it flourish.

The main arena bowl will also add an ice surface, giving it the ability to host hockey tournaments and attract larger on-ice events or competitions, much like the existing Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue. Using these ice sheets, the Predators will offer various learn-to-skate programs at the facility, continuing their mission to expose and grow hockey to more Middle Tennessee residents.

The Multi-Purpose Event Center will hold roughly 6,000 fans for concerts, 5,500 for basketball games, and 5,000 for hockey games. Fans can follow the progress and stay up-to-date on everything relating to the Montgomery County Multi-Purpose Event Center by following @MoCoMPEC on both Twitter and Instagram.

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