Cedar Park Center breaks ice for new era

Zach DiSchiano

     The rapidly growing city of Cedar Park should expect even more inhabitants with the new Cedar Park Center that opened up in late September. The building is located off 183A and New Hope Road and the arena holds up to 8,700 people for concert venues and 6,800 for hockey games. There was talk of adding an Arena Football 2 league team (a developmental league for Arena Football) that would have had the Austin Wranglers calling the new stadium home, but the team ceased operations in 2008. The arena cost the City of Cedar Park roughly 55 million dollars, but the center is expected to produce approximately 450 jobs and generate more tax revenue. The city is hiring both part time and full time employees to work on booking a lineup of events. Since the center costs more than some lottery jackpots, some question the approaches of building an athletic complex and concert venue.

     “We don’t need a place like that, and we could have spent the tax dollars on something more efficient, like funding more school related programs around the area, or somehow helping local farmers and other businesses,” Hailey Rosen, senior, said. “We’ve enjoyed the Frank Erwin Center for concerts and graduations and other events; we don’t need some brand new multi-million dollar building.”

     The city hopes to make up the money difference soon, as the general manager of the center predicts that it will host over 120 events in its first year. The Grammy award winning country musicians George Strait and Lee Ann Womack have already appeared, and on November 2 American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson made an appearance on her “All I Ever Wanted” tour.  The center welcomed a Chicago alternative rock band Wilco October 8. In late November the arena hosted its first theatrical show with Walking with Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular.  Along with sporting events, concerts and family shows the center will host corporate events and trade conventions for companies.

     “It reflects how big Cedar Park is getting,” Tommy Boyett, senior, said. “It’s good that we finally got it.”     

     This year’s graduating class from Cedar Park graduate at the new complex. This will be the first of many graduations that will be held at the center, and the seniors at CPHS will be the first class in this new Cedar Park tradition.

     “I think it’s great that we have our own event center because Cedar Park is such a growing community,” Hillary Babin, senior, said. “I can’t wait to be a part of the first class to graduate there.” While the majority of students are excited to graduate at the center, there downtown and walking out of the doors and seeing the beautiful city of Austin and now I am going to walk out of the center and see a Taco Bell,” Alyssa Trujillo, senior, said. “I’m not very fond of the idea.”

     The center is the new home to the Texas Stars, a hockey team in the American Hockey League (AHL). The City of Cedar Park is trying to attract families to attend regularly, marketing affordable ticket prices starting as low as nine dollars a seat. The AHL is a developmental league much like the National Basketball Development League (NBDL) and the minor leagues in baseball. Players from the Texas Stars can be called up to play for the NHL’s Dallas Stars when needed. The center offers special areas for the avid hockey fans. Season ticket holders for the Texas Stars will be rewarded with a bar suite and lounge, the Stars Club sports bar access and admission to the Miller Lite Lounge. The arena has 20 luxury suites and four party suites available, six concession stands and TV monitors in concession areas. With 2,700 parking spaces available, drivers shouldn’t have to worry about squeezing in between a Hummer and an Excursion.

     The addition of the arena should bring more visitors to Cedar Park and expand the population even more. The Class of 2010 will be the first of many classes to graduate at the center. With games, performances, shows, acts and corporate events lined up, the center will bring in entertainment and fun for the whole family without having to make a trip to Austin.