Mola Lenghi, Arlington Journalist
With construction complete, officials hope UTA's College Park Center will generate top notch recruits and national attention.
Let the games begin at University of Texas at Arlington’s College Park Center.
The $78 million arena held its grand opening Wednesday night as the men’s and women’s basketball teams played host to UT-San Antonio.
“Everyone's pretty excited,” UTA student Ashley Arogunmati said.
The state-of-the-art facility is the new centerpiece of the UTA campus.
“For an emerging university like University of Texas at Arlington, it really gives them a feature facility,” said David Skaggs, the developer.
The university hopes the facility can attract top-notch recruits and, in turn, grab some national attention that could mean big bucks for UTA.
“Everyone is basically in an arms race for their athletic facilities,” Skaggs said.
Developers say the arena is also more than a place to catch a basketball game or volleyball match.
The school is trying to attract musicians and speakers. There is even talk of attracting a presidential debate.
“It's going to be a first-class fan experience,” Skaggs said.
UTA has already landed popular singer Drake for a concert in March. Tickets sold out nearly immediately.
On Feb. 17, ESPN will hold a boxing event, Friday Night Fights, at the College Park Center.
“There's going to be a lot more events going on and a lot more sponsored events -- not just campus or school-related events," UTA student Aakash Patel said. "But I think it's also going to draw attention from all over the region."
Arogunmati said she thinks the arena also will attract prospective students.
“I think that when people come to tour, it will help get more students to campus,” she said.
UTA has often been considered a commuter school in a commuter town.
But with College Park Center and the College Park District, a mixed-use shopping and residential district just across the street from the new arena, the hope is that both UTA and Arlington become places people want to stay.
“I think for Arlington and the whole region, this kind of facility is really able to activate the campus and make the campus a destination," Skaggs said.