Basketball fans to get first look at new arena

By Staff

A new era for University of Colorado at Colorado Springs Athletics will begin Friday when the Mountain Lions play the first games in the new 1,250-seat UCCS Event Center. The center's opening eliminates the dubious distinction of UCCS athletics having the smallest venue in NCAA Division II.

The basketball teams will face Fort Lewis on Friday and Adams State on Saturday. Women's games both nights will begin at 6 p.m., followed by men's games at about 8 p.m. Tickets will be available at the door; advance tickets are available by calling 719-255-3602.

The 27,000-square-foot event center, adjacent to the old Lions' Den, features high-tech sound, lighting and high-speed data capability. The multi-purpose facility will host intercollegiate athletics, conferences and large all-campus events such as convocation. It will be available for rent by non-university entities.

Fans will notice new LED scoreboards, scrolling message score tables and improved seating, restrooms and concession areas. Also included are a large visitors' locker room, an officials' locker room and a VIP area.

"I don't think I can overstate how important the new UCCS Events Center will be for the development of our athletics programs," said UCCS athletic director and women's basketball coach Stephen Kirkham. "It will positively impact us in many areas, particularly in local recruiting and alumni relations."

Because some finish work still has to be done, this weekend's games are considered a soft opening for the facility. The official grand opening ceremony will be at 4 p.m. Jan. 22 before games against Regis. Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members are invited to attend the event, which will feature comments by CU Regent Steve Bosley, President Bruce Benson, Chancellor Pam Shockley-Zalabak and Student Government President Daniel Garcia. The UCCS pep band and cheerleaders will perform. A barbecue will feature buffalo burgers and hamburgers seared with the image of the UCCS Mountain Lion mascot. For more information, call 719-255-3210.

The $9 million project got underway in fall 2007 with a $2 million allocation from the Office of the President of the University of Colorado. Multiple revenue sources were used to fund the balance of the project.

Following other recent construction at UCCS, the Event Center will seek Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for its energy efficiency and use of sustainable building practices.