(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) – Hundreds of Iowans descended upon the new $99 million Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines on Tuesday evening for its first public open house and a ribbon-cutting marking an official end to the 2-and-a-half years of construction.
Governor Tom Vilsack, who had called the facility “a symbol of the new Iowa,” according to the Des Moines Register, joined a string of local officials in praising the project. Outside, a live band and beer stands welcomed the visitors. Once inside, many attendees roamed the arena floor, some peeked into the luxury suites and locker rooms, and others searched for the best seats in the house.
The arena is the final piece of the Polk County-owned Iowa Events Center, which also includes the Hy-Vee Hall, the Polk County Convention Complex and a renovated Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
The $217 million Events Center is the most expensive public project in Iowa’s history, and city leaders billed it as the cornerstone of downtown Des Moines’ revival.
“This is a crown jewel of many great things happening in this community,” Des Moines City Councilman Chris Coleman told the Register.
Skateboarder Tony Hawk’s “Boom Boom Huck Jam” will be the first ticketed event at the arena on Thursday.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will visit the arena on Monday for the first concert. The first sold-out date is October’s Paul McCartney appearance.
The arena’s main tenant will be the Iowa Stars, a minor league hockey team. The I-Stars will play about 40 regular season home games in the facility.
The arena can hold up to 17,000 people, and will host several sporting events, including state high school basketball tournaments.
State and county leaders expect the new arena to draw hundreds of thousands of people to the central city every year, and expect money to pour into restaurants and other downtown businesses. –by CelebrityAccess Staff Writers