LINCOLN — Andy Zimmer wasn't about to let an opportunity to see the Pinnacle Bank Arena go to waste.
The 22-year-old University of Nebraska-Lincoln student walked in the front door of the arena wearing running shorts and a backward baseball cap to check out the arena's first public event: UNL's summer commencement for graduate students.
“I'm really impressed,” Zimmer said as he surveyed the floor, scoreboard and red seats before the ceremony. “I just really like the look of the place.”
University officials also lauded Lincoln's new arena.
“This is also the commencement of this magnificent building,” UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman said.
Graduates, families and friends took pride in being part of the arena's first event. Groups snapped photos inside and outside before and after the ceremony.
Many groups of parents and friends stood by the seats, admiring the giant scoreboard at the center of the arena and the ribbon scoreboards underneath the upper deck.
Heather Peters, who graduated Friday with a master's degree in education, said going through the ceremony in the new building added to her excitement.
“When I found out, I was just so excited to be a part of the first ever event in here,” Peters said. “I think this just makes it that much more special.”
Friday's ceremony featured 213 UNL graduates with professional and graduate degrees. About 330 graduates are expected for the undergraduate ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, said UNL spokesman Steve Smith.
Of the 330 graduates at Saturday's ceremony, 57 graduated in May and are walking because of an invitation from Perlman. Their ceremony, scheduled for Memorial Stadium, was rained out.
About 800 UNL students are receiving their degrees this weekend, but not all go through the ceremony.
Video: UNL's Graduation Ceremony