An estimated 2,500 to 3,000 persons were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. Lubbock police were busy directing traffic into the $25 million complex an hour before the official opening. At mid-morning, vehicles were back up almost to the intersection of 50th Street and Slide Road.
Mayor Morris Turner said the new shopping center concept for Lubbock was "indicative of the progressive attitude which prevails here." In a lighter vein, he jested that the "addition to the tax base is only a small portion of our joy today."
Turner, who along with Miss Charlotte Smith, "Miss Lubbock" for 1972, cut a gold-colored ribbon marking the opening, said the mall should have "far reaching effects," financially speaking, for the city.
William Dillard Sr. of Little Rock, Ark., chairman of the Dillard's Department Stores board of directors, whose firm owns one of the three "anchor" stores in the 846,000 square foot mall, said the new facility was "as good looking as any Dillard's in Texas, and we have several." Dillard's in South Plains Mall is the company's 24th.
Marvin Tanner of Dallas, vice president of Penney's, Dallas, said their mall store, the largest in Texas, will serve customers with a full line of the company's products and hopefully more efficiently and effectively.
Bill Collins, president of Hemphill-Wells, said he and his company were looking forward to the day when their store, under construction, will serve to complement "a center as fine as this."
Members of the Lubbock City Council, except Councilman Lonnie Hollingsworth who was out of town, were present for the ceremonies.
Gail Willis, South Plains Mall vice president, served as emcee. Invocation was given by Lt. Col. Caryl Meyer, Reese AFB chaplain.
The mall will house 107 stores when completely leased about January 1. Forty-eight stores were opened Wednesday, according to Dick Golsby, mall manager. However, an additional 20 to 25 stores are slated to open within the next 30 days.
Called the "largest enclosed shopping mall west of Dallas" by its developers, the complex at 6002 Slide Road encompasses 864,664 square feet of space.