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Exterior walls for the United Spirit Arena construction went up in 1997, and the $62 million arena was opened for public events in 1999.

Tech's United Spirit Arena opens to glowing reviews

1999 United Spirit Arena will be a good recruiting tool for Texas Tech as well as a positive addition to Lubbock's landscape, according to a few people who toured the facility Friday.

The public, self-guided tours of the $62 million arena were part of grand opening festivities.

Garrett McKinnon, a Tech graduate, said the arena would help attract higher-caliber basketball and volleyball players.

"I think it will be a really great recruiting tool," McKinnon said.

He also was impressed with the locker rooms and layout of the arena.

"I think that probably the most impressive part was the main floor," McKinnon said. "There's not a bad seat in the house."

Sarah Sims, who accompanied McKinnon on the tour, said the arena can lend itself to non-athletic activities.

"I think it will mean there will be more concerts," Sims said. "It's a definite improvement over the (Lubbock Municipal) Coliseum."

"I think this makes Lubbock the centerpiece of West Texas," McKinnon added.

Van and Shirley Kountz also strolled through the arena Friday.

Shirley Kountz described the arena as "awesome" and lauded the attention to detail in the architecture.

"Surely it will draw more people," she said. "I'm hoping it will increase the student attendance."

The couple said the arena should help in recruiting regular students as well as student-athletes.

Robert Fortney, a Tech graduate student, called the structure "beautifully functional" and said it blends in with the rest of the campus.

"This is a good recruiting tool, not just for basketball, but anybody coming here. It carries the theme of the campus," Fortney said.

He added that the arena can be the "focal point" of pride for the community.

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