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Lights Come On at New Crown Coliseum

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FAYETTEVILLE — Cumberland County has suddenly become a city of lights -- lots of lights. The newest and brightest are the onesinside the new Crown Coliseum, and they shone on an historic night inFayetteville Thursday.

It took seven years and $55 million to turn a dream into the reality ofthe new coliseum. The project has had its critics, but they weren't likelyto have been heard over the Thursday night's crowd.

With time running out, workers were still putting the finishing toucheson the facility. Doors opened to the public for the first time at 7 p.m.,and construction and cleaning crews worked up until the last minute.

Coliseum General Manager Kendall Wall says it's been a long road tothis night.

After playing two games on the road, the Force took to the iceThursday night for the home opener. It marked the first timeFayetteville hockey fans had a team to call their own. Hockey playerRobert Plante says he is looking forward to playing there.

Player Roddy MacCormick says he hopes fans will be pleased.

The owner of the Force, Bill Coffee, had not seen his team in actionyet, but said he's very pleased with the coliseum.

A brief ceremony was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on center ice before thegame. Tickets sold for $6 to $12 and parking is free.

The Crown Coliseum seats up to 10,000. Officials said they expected tosell about 5,000 tickets for Thursday night's game.

Photographer:Rick Allen