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Special Events Center Opens at last Photos by David Raines The long awaited Special Events Center now is finished and ready for the influx of basketball players, fans and UT System dignitaries. At 7:30 p.m. Thursday, the UT El Paso Miners and Wyoming Cowboys meet in the first game to be played at the new center. In addition to loyal supporters, E. Don Walker, UT System deputy chancellor, and Frank Erwin, former chairman of the UT System Board of Regents will be on hand for the opening game, Dale Walker, news and information director, said. Also Stan Bates, Western Athletic Conference commissioner, and representatives of B.W. Crane Architects of Houston, the firm that designed the building, will be here. Jordon and Nobles Contractors, the company which built the center, also will be represented. The octagonal-shaped building, which originally was estimated to cost $8.7 million, holds 12,000 fans in its 130,000 square feet of floor space, Jim Kennedy of Jordon and Nobles, said. Dale Walker, news and information director, said Permanent University Puna monies were used to construct the building, which is estimated to cost about $1U million upon completion. The center, reaching 56 feet high, 423 feet long and 381 feet wide, will be used for other events throughout the year, including an official opening featuring Lawrence Welk on March 4. A portable stage measuring from 40 to 60 feet is to be used for this type of event with plastic 42-inch shields placed on the floor to protect the basketball court. . , The shields also can be used as a base for an ice or sawdust floor for ice shows, circuses and other events. In addition to the center, a new parking lot will furnish 185 spaces for day students. „ For the upcoming basketball game, there are "plenty of reserve seats available, Marjorie Williamson athletic ticket manager, said. "I would like to emphasize to the students that now they can pick up their guest tickets when they pick up their own. No more waiting list," she added. "I think the team will do just as well in the new center as they did in Memorial Gym if we can fill the thing up," William Rivera, assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, said.