Full speed ahead

Approval paves the way for much-anticipated special events center on the eastern edge of campus

By Mark Permenter

dream come true

Called a “dream come true” by President James D. Spaniolo, UT Arlington’s long-awaited special events center has taken a giant step toward reality. The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Feb. 12 to allow the University to move forward with design and construction.

“We’ve been working for more than 20 years to develop a special events center,” Spaniolo said. “It is arguably one of the most anticipated projects in recent University history.”

In addition to providing first-rate facilities for Mavericks basketball and volleyball teams, the approximately 190,000-square-foot, 6,500-seat venue will accommodate convocations, commencements, concerts, political debates, speakers and conferences.

conceptual rendering of interior

"It is arguably one of the most anticipated projects in recent University history."

- President James D. Spaniolo

“This events center will give our premier basketball teams a true home court and invigorate our campus spirit,” Spaniolo said. The men’s team advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, and the women earned tournament berths in 2005 and 2007.

Size: 190,000 square feet
Seating: 6,500
Cost: $73 million
Location: Between S. Center and S. Pecan streets at W. Second Street
Construction: Designed to achieve LEED Silver Certifcation
Construction time: Approximately 30 months, with anticipated completion in spring 2012

Athletics Director Pete Carlon says the venue will help more than just UT Arlington’s indoor sports.

“The athletic staff is ecstatic because a facility like this will elevate our opportunity for success for all of our teams,” he said, adding that a related sports medicine center in the building will enhance the athletic training program, which is part of the Department of Kinesiology.

The center will be on the east side of the campus between South Center and South Pecan streets at West Second Street. Chosen for its proximity to four residence halls and the UT Arlington Bookstore, the site also will help connect the University to downtown Arlington.

“The special events center will be a cornerstone of development already reshaping downtown Arlington and lay the groundwork for expanded private development along the north and east edges of campus,” Spaniolo said. One aspect of UT Arlington’s Campus Master Plan is the creation of a college town community along the northern boundary.

Expected to open in spring 2012, the $73 million center will be designed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver Certification for sustainable development. In December 2004 Student Congress passed an initiative that established student fees to help support operating expenses for a special events center. The fees will not be assessed until the facility opens.

The University is developing a parking plan that includes a large garage immediately north of the center. The garage would provide parking for daily campus operations, as well as for events at the special events center and in downtown Arlington.

“We’re improving our downtown urban design, creating a density of activities,” said Trey Yelverton, Arlington’s deputy city manager for economic development and a 1988 UT Arlington graduate. “An events center of this nature will accelerate our efforts to build an area downtown—a college town.”

Online: www.uta.edu/eventcenter

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