University and elected officials and other supporters gathered in late January to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. At a reception to celebrate the occasion, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney described the building as a catalyst for the ongoing transformation of downtown Lowell.
“There is no doubt that the Tsongas Center symbolizes Lowell’s economic revitalization,” she said. “We have always been proud to partner with the city on this project and on so many other economic development fronts.”
The building is named for the late U.S. Sen. Paul Tsongas, whose vision and determination were driving forces behind the construction of the arena. His widow, U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas, two of his daughters and grandson were on hand for the celebration.
“He would be so proud,” Tsongas said.
The family dropped the puck in a ceremony at center ice before a game between the River Hawks men’s hockey team and Hockey East rival Boston College.
Also on hand for the celebration were state Sen. Eileen Donoghue; state Reps. Thomas Golden and David Nangle; former state Sen. Steven Panagiotakos; Lowell Mayor Bill Samaras; Lowell City Manager Kevin Murphy; former Lowell city managers John Cox and Brian Martin; and John Costello, a former chairman of the Arena and Civic Stadium Commission who oversaw the building’s construction.
The building opened on Jan. 27, 1998. In 2010, the university acquired the arena from the city for $1 and renamed it the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell. Since then, the Tsongas Center has welcomed more than 2 million people and has undergone extensive renovations. Now, more than 300,000 people attend events there annually, and UMass Lowell ranks in the top 10 in the nation in NCAA Division I hockey attendance.