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Happy 13th Birthday to The Billboard! Florida Panthers Arena Officially Opens on Oct. 9, 1998

13th It's a day of celebration in Sunrise today as the BankAtlantic Center -- also known as the National Car Rental Center, the Office Depot Center, the Billboard and an outlet for fine appliances at a sacrifice price -- celebrates its 13th birthday.

On Oct. 9, 1998, the Panthers beat Tampa Bay 4-1 in the old NCRC.

The parade on the Sawgrass Mills Mall access road is rumored to start around 3 p.m. The Piper High marching band is the lead act.

Of course, some celebrated the arena's birthday on Oct. 3. On that day in 1998, Celine Dion put on a concert in the new arena. But us hockey purists don't celebrate that holiday.

Maybe they could hang a banner from the rafters to honor the occassion. You know, nothing says 'hockey arena' like a Celine Dion banner.

BACscoreboard -- All joking aside, the arena has definitely recieved a face lift this summer as the Panthers replaced all the drab green seats with red ones in the lower bowl and splashed red paint throughout the building.

A second LED ribbon has been installed along the 400 level facade and I've been told a third ring has been hung above the old -- but repainted -- scoreboard.

Here is a photo sent to me looking ahead at the future look of the arena with the new scoreboard.

We'll see. I've been hearing the new scoreboard is "on its way" for a few years now.

Anyway, Happy Birthday! See you at the parade!

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