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Luis Miguel christens new arena in much-anticipated debut

www.themonitor.com / Daniel Flores

EDINBURG — The sold-out crowd erupted, cellphones in hand, as iconic Mexican singer Luis Miguel took the stage Friday as the first to perform here at the new Bert Ogden Arena.

Fans of Luis Miguel filed into the arena to see the Mexican crooner perform in what became the long-awaited 9,000-seat venue’s inaugural show, christening what those associated with the $88 million project have referred to as a “game-changer” for Rio Grande Valley entertainment and sporting events.

Miguel last performed in the Valley in 2011 at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. His Friday evening show at Bert Ogden Arena, however, proved his largest Valley crowd to date. The Edinburg stop is part of the North American leg of Miguel’s ¡México Por Siempre! Tour.

"It's a great show to open up the building with," said arena CEO Marc Solis.

In addition to being a local draw, Miguel attracted international fans, like 23-year-old Kathia Ballesteros from Tamaulipas, Mexico, who came with her two brothers.

“He’s the sun of Mexico,” Ballesteros said as she added hot sauce to her chicharrones. She’s always wanted to see Miguel in concert, and this was her first opportunity.

Earlier, ticket holders bustled through the arena’s surrounding concourse over patches of tile that were relaid just days ago.

"Most of the stuff is cosmetic — little touch-ups here and there," Solis said Wednesday of the work that needed to be done leading up to Miguel’s show.

Many attendees stopped to ask for help finding their sections. Traffic was backed up down the frontage road off I-69 leading up to the start of the concert, which kicked off a little more than half an hour late.

With attendees unfamiliar with the new space, this was to be expected, according to Solis. Learning the parking situation and the building layout will take time, and it’s been a normal phase during the other arena openings he’s been a part of.

“For us, it's an education to the public to make things a little easier for them,” he said. "Our job is to help make it as easy as we can."

Alonzo Cantu, who funded a significant portion of the arena’s construction via a public-private partnership with the city of Edinburg, said successful shows at the venue will help build “credibility with artists to fill this place.”

He encouraged the Valley to support events at the arena.

“I don't decide who comes,” Cantu said. “The market decides who comes, and the promoters don't come if the market’s not here."

Through his four-decade career, Miguel has released 33 albums, sold more than 100 million and earned six Grammy Awards and four Latin Grammys. The first season of “Luis Miguel,” a Telemundo TV show based on the star’s life, wrapped this summer.