EDINBURG, RGV – Edinburg Mayor Richard Molina has taken his first tour of the new Bert Ogden Arena – which the City of Edinburg owns – and he is mightily impressed.
“It is humongous. I am very, very, impressed by the mammoth size of this thing. It is unbelievable to think you are in the Valley. These are things you see in San Antonio, Houston or Dallas. It is amazing we are going to have a facility like this here in the Valley. I got my first peek last week so I can tell you it is looking very nice. I can just think about all the events and how packed it is going to get,” Molina said.
There have been a couple of open houses for VIPs to tour the $88 million facility but each time Molina has had prior commitments. He said he took it upon himself to take a tour last week with the project manager. The 9,000-seat arena is still under construction and is due to open late summer.
One of the things that impressed Molina is the height.
“I am not afraid of heights but once I went up to the top, it is like, whoa, you are really high up there. As I was climbing the steps it was like, wow, this is really, really high. I got to be where the suites are going to be. I thought, this place is humongous. It is a long way down.”
Another impressive feature, Molina said, is the size of the JumboTron.
“I was amazed by the JumboTron. I have been to a couple of Dallas Cowboys games and you cannot help but be amazed by the size of the JumboTron. You probably will not even be paying attention to the court, the size is so big, your eyes will be fixed on the JumboTron. There is nothing like that in the Rio Grande Valley. It is a big screen that will attract a lot of attention.”
Molina spoke about the Bert Ogden Arena immediately following a meeting of the City of Edinburg, Texas Local Government Finance Corporation. This is the entity set up by the City of Edinburg to oversee the operations of the arena. The corporation comprises city councilmembers. The corporation met at city hall on Monday and immediately went into executive session. No action was taken when the executive session ended.
“This finance corporation is an arm of the council. This board oversees the arena. We had not met since we formed it, pretty much. We got an update on how the lease agreement will work,” Molina told reporters after the meeting.
Asked if the city councilmembers on the finance corporation are happy with the financing arrangement for the Bert Ogden Arena, Molina said reporters would have to ask the members individually. He pointed out that the financing was agreed by the previous administration.
“This agreement was put together by the old people. You look at it for what it is. It is water under the bridge and it is time for us to move on. Let’s move on and see how we can make things better. We do not want to get back into the Monday morning quarterback deal. Let’s move on and let’s get this thing to work,” Molina said.
Asked if the arena is going to be a great investment for the taxpayers of Edinburg going forward, Molina said: “I certainly hope so.”
The great thing is, the City of Edinburg owns the Bert Ogden Arena, Molina explained.
“The people of Edinburg own it. These are exciting times. I can’t wait to see how many big concerts they are going to put on. I am a big boxing fan and I know they are going to have some boxing. Different events where you will not have to travel anymore. The San Antonio and Houston shows are going to come down here. We will save a lot of money, not paying for gas to go and see a show up there.”
Asked when the arena will open, Molina said: “They are shooting for August 31, when the first concert takes place. That is just around the corner.”
Molina added: “The arena is humongous. You can get a workout just putting on your running shoes and taking a walk around the arena. And it is in Edinburg! With this, Edinburg is the destination city. I am sorry, everybody else will be looking for a consolation prize.”
Editor’s Note: Mayor Molina said he did not take any photos of himself at the arena. The photos used in the slideshow above were taken by Rio Grande Guardian photo-journalist Apolonio Sandoval, Jr., during an open-house at the arena in mid-April.