Starting the end of September, Bax- ter Arena will be the premier event center for the University of Ne- braska at Omaha. The $81 million building is 200,000 square feet and seats more than 7,500. It will host everything from men’s hockey, to graduation ceremonies.
Mike Cera, Baxter Arena General Manager, says the funding for the project was a collective effort.
“It was a combination and collec- tive effort between donor fund- ing, university funding and city of Omaha funding,” Cera said. “The city of Omaha provided fund- ing for some of the infrastructure around the building such as the roads and stoplights.”
The building will be utilized for much more than sports, Cera says. It will host men’s and women’s bas- ketball, women’s volleyball and men’s hockey.
“It will also be used for UNO com- mencements, commencements for local high schools, family shows such as Alvin and the Chipmunks, theatre productions, and comedi- ans,” Cera said.
Comedians Larry the Cable Guy and Jeff Foxworthy are scheduled to perform at the Baxter Arena on December 4, and tickets just went on sale.
“We want to host as much commu- nity activity as we can,” Cera said.
The Baxter Arena will serve alcohol to of-age patrons – a luxury Cera says was purposely maintained for the fans.
“That was one thing that the uni- versity thought we should provide since fans have already enjoyed it,” Cera said. “In the past fans have been able to enjoy that amenity so it’s now become an expectation and we are all about exceeding expectations.”
Construction on the building is well on its way to completion. Cera says the main structure is up and the only things to complete now are small miscellaneous items.
Students Lucas Kopietz and Tyler Kopietz believe the arena will bring in more students to games and help the university’s image.
“The university just keeps expand- ing not only with the new arena but with new colleges and buildings. The arena can only help the university’s image,” Tyler Kopietz said.
Cera believes the new arena pro- vides a front door for the university from a branding standpoint, and a good opportunity for UNO to grow its brand.
“This is the home of UNO ath- letics…with our teams being as successful as they are this creates recruiting opportunities for our teams which will only help them get better,” Cera says. “It also pro- vides students with an opportunity to get out, have fun and get excited about the UNO brand.”
Lot 26 near the Baxter Arena will be open year-round to students for parking, and shuttles will run to and from Baxter Arena to both UNO campuses throughout the year. Event parking will be free of charge with 2,500 parking spots available.
Cera says the arena has 800 seats set aside for the student section and the hope is that all of those would be filled for each event. For the hockey games, all tickets are already sold out for the suites, box seats and season tickets.
“We are very excited about the opening and looking forward to October and kicking the building off with UNO hockey versus Air Force on Oct. 23,” Cera said.