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First basketball game in new arena is Tuesday

The first official basketball game in the Gina Cox Center is Tuesday when the Lady Jackrabbits and Jackrabbits play two games against Pulaski Robinson. The girls game begins at 6 p.m.

Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for students. Entrance into the arena is on the front, which faces Academy Street.

Lonoke athletic director Nathan Morris said parking will be available inside the football field, in front of the high school and new parking has been opened up where the old high school cafeteria was. It was connected to the old gym. Also, overflow parking will be available behind the old gym.

Morris said parking between the visitor’s bleachers of James B. Abraham Stadium and the Gina Cox Center will be reserved for visiting team buses and transportation.

Fans are not allowed on the playing floor. Patrons are asked to use the stairs in the foyer of the arena to enter the seating area. An elevator is also available.

Morris said he did not have a problem with patrons exciting the arena using the outside fire escape on the west side of the Gina Cox Center.

“I’m excited but it’s here,” Morris said of the first games next week. “It’s not what it’s going to be,” he said referring to the game experience in the arena.

“I don’t think we will have all the bells and whistles that we are going to have.”

Morris said Andrew Duncan, the audio/visual director for the district, has worked hard getting things ready.

“It’s going to be fun,” Morris said. “It’s been a long time coming. The kids are excited. I know they are going to be even more excited that night. It’s not about the coaches; it’s about the community and what the kids see. I know they are excited.”

Morris said he thinks there will be a big crowd at the Gina Cox Center for the first game.

“I would love for our football team to win Friday night (against Maumelle) and still in the playoffs over Thanksgiving,” he said. “That will just carry on the buzz of the game. That will get everyone excited.

“We’d like a big crowd. It’s right before Thanksgiving. The kids are on vacation the next day. There’s no reason why people shouldn’t come out and enjoy it.”

The Gina Cox Center is named in honor of Gina Cox Wiertelak. She, along with her husband Jim, donated $1 million toward the construction of the 2,200-seat facility, which opened in August for volleyball season. Gina is a 1977 graduate of Lonoke High School. She was a member of the 1977 state championship basketball team at Lonoke.

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