In 1992, Wayne Huizenga obtained a new NHL franchise that would eventually become the Florida Panthers. Until the team had an arena of their own, they initially played at the now-demolished Miami Arena, sharing the venue with the NBA's Miami Heat. Sunrise City Manager Pat Salerno made public a $167-million financing and construction plan for a civic center near the Sawgrass Expressway in December 1995, and Broward County approved construction in February 1996. In June 1996, the site was chosen by the Panthers, and in July, Alex Muxo gathered more than a dozen architects, engineers and contractors for the first major design brainstorming session. Architects Ellerbe Becket were given 26 months to build the arena, which had to be ready by August 30, 1998, to accommodate the 1998–99 NHL season. Despite never having designed a facility that had taken less than 31 months from start to finish, they accepted the job.
Seventy suites were completed with wet bars, closed circuit monitors and leather upholstery. Averaging over 650 square feet (60 m2), the suites are the largest in the country for this type of facility. Also home to private lounge box seating, all construction activity was generated by over fifty subcontractors and 2.3 million man hours without a single injury. Known as the Broward County Civic Center during construction, the naming rights were won in July 1998 by National Car Rental — a company purchased by Huizenga in January 1997 — leading to the venue being named the National Car Rental Center. A certificate of occupancy was given on September 12, 1998, and the arena opened on October 3, 1998 with a Celine Dion concert. The next day, Elton John performed (citation? this statement is not reflected in the "Concerts" table show below), and on October 9, 1998, the Florida Panthers had their first home game at their new arena.
As NRC's new parent company, ANC Rental, went bankrupt in 2002, the Panthers sought a new sponsor for the arena. It became the Office Depot Center in the summer of 2002. (Office Depot is an office supply retailing company, which is headquartered in nearby Boca Raton.) Just over three years later, the arena's name changed again; it became the BankAtlantic Center on September 6, 2005. (BankAtlantic was headquartered in nearby Fort Lauderdale.)
Because BB&T purchased BankAtlantic in July 2012, the arena was rebranded as the BB&T Center.
The arena is currently the largest in Florida and second-largest in the Southeastern United States, behind Greensboro Coliseum. During the 2011 offseason, the BB&T Center replaced the original green seats in the lower bowl with new red seats, as a part of the Panthers' "We See Red" campaign.
In October 2012, Sunrise Sports and Entertainment completed installation of the Club Red seating sections encompassing the center ice seats during hockey games. It is an all-inclusive nightclub experience following the trend of other sports and entertainment venues in incorporating high-end seating sections and clubs.
The ADT Club, located on the club level, offers food and beverage. The Duffy's Sky Club at the BB&T Center encompasses approximately 8,000 square feet (740 m2) and can cater to a maximum of about 500 guests. The Penalty Box offers fans another seating and dining option inside the BB&T Center. The Legends Lounge is a restaurant located on the Lexus Suite Level, and offers sit down service.
On May 14, 2013, Broward County voted to fund a new scoreboard for the county-owned arena. On October 11, 2013, the scoreboard made its debut for the Panthers' 2013–14 home opener.
In February 2019, it was announced that BB&T is merging with SunTrust Banks, to form Truist Financial Corporation. The merged company decided to not renew the naming rights agreement after it expired in 2021; the arena will thus have the temporary name of FLA Live Arena until a new rights partner is found.