ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The University of Texas at Arlington has been quietly rebranding itself over the past few years, and the city of Arlington and many in North Texas are starting to notice.
The university is shaking off its ‘commuter school’ image and has been busy reshaping it’s downtown Arlington campus with new buildings better suited for the life of a full-fledged urban university.
There is no better example of the metamorphosis the school has been undergoing that to look to it’s basketball facility.
On Saturday, the UT Arlington Mavericks Men’s basketball team said goodbye to Texas Hall, their multi-purpose theater/arena that had been their home court since 1965.
SLIDESHOW: Goodbye To UTA’s Big Stage
For a university theater Texas Hall is amazingly comfortable and great acoustically. Not many places can boast the opening event was a Louis Armstrong concert.
But for a basketball arena, while unique, it left much to be desired.
That will all change on February 1, when the school’s basketball and volleyball teams will cross over Cooper Street to take up residence in the new College Park Center.
The state-of-the-art arena will be able to host 7,000 fans for sporting events, concerts and graduations. But most importantly, it will give the over 5,000 students on campus a focal point of school spirit previously unseen.
Senior Associate Athletic Director Gregg Elkin beams with excitement when talking about the new arena. “It really captures the modernization of campus,” he said, showing off the new facility. “It links the school to downtown Arlington, gives it a real destination with concerts, basketball games and other events.”
The arena is just one part of UT Arlington’s College Park District. The school will be building more dorms, apartments and retail space to increase their profile. They will also be opening a new campus welcome center in the new development.
It all coincides with the athletic teams moving into the Western Athletic Conference in the fall. Alumni and Arlington residents Bill and Dawn Harp are big supporters of school’s athletic programs, and even celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary by attending the last men’s basketball game at Texas Hall. “We just can’t wait,” Dawn said of the new arena’s opening. “I think it steps us up big-time,” said Bill. “I think we’ll go into the WAC as a player.”
Even the school’s name is getting an upgrade. For years, it’s been known as ‘UTA’ – but now signs across campus and around town want you to know it’s UT Arlington. The college is growing, and it wants to reflect it in every way possible.
And on Saturday, while fans like the self-proclaimed ‘Mav Hatter’ Al Woolum were sad to see their little unique corner of college basketball lore go away, almost all will admit the move is necessary for the college. “I’m excited about them moving to WAC, I’m looking forward them to upgrading their game and upgrading the school.”