By Kirk Lang

klang@bcnnew.com

It's official. The opening of the Fairfield University Bookstore was marked Friday by a ribbon-cutting ceremony and press conference to introduce the nre management for the store that replaces Borders Books in an anchor retail sport downtown.

The launch featured university athletes, cheer and dance teams, athletes and university mascot, Lucas the Stag.

"We want to bring the intellectual and cultural life of our university fully into the heart of the Fairfield community," said Fairfield University President Rev. Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J. Also on hand were interim First Selectman Michael Tetreau and Ken Kleban of Kleban Properties, which owns the building.

More than two dozen events were planned throughout the weekend to celebrate the university's first off-campus enterprise in downtown Fairfield.

Although the university has had a bookstore on campus, freshman Casey Delbasso, a member of the cheer team, said the new store gives students a reason to leave the North Benson Road campus and visit the downtown area.

"It's something new," she said. "It's a change of pace from the usual."

Beth Greenwood said she will definitely take the Stag shuttle bus to downtown more often. It doesn't hurt, she said, that the new store is "across the street from Pinkberry," the popular frozen yogurt shop.

Fairfield resident Carla Sheehan, who was perusing cook books to possibly buy for her niece, said Fairfield University's expansion allows the community to essentially "enjoy what we had before" in the aftermath of Borders' closing.

"It's a place to gather, meet friends for a cup of coffee," she said, referring to the store's cafe, which will be run by Starbucks. "Books are here. Despite so much technology, people still like having the printed book. We need to have it all."