Speedy construction and promotional video have students buzzing over sports arena

Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway Taken Oct. 12, this photo shows the arena beginning to take form. The plan is for the arena to be completed in time for the first hockey game in 2015.
Photo by Evan Ludes/ The Gateway
Taken Oct. 12, this photo shows the arena beginning to take form. The plan is for the arena to be completed in time for the first hockey game in 2015.

By Kaitlin Vickers, Contributor

Many students are excited for the new arena near 68th and Center St. to be opened in 2015. Maverick Mayhem pumped students up by showing videos of University of Nebraska at Omaha sports teams and mentioning the new addition to the athletic program. The videos were a way to get the campus excited up and ready for the season. On Thursday night, Maverick fans were also told about the arena during a One Fund event which hosted over 300 guests including chairs of the campaign and directors of athletics.
At $87.9 million, the arena was originally planned to be $11.6 million less than it is now. The cost was increased due to rising construction prices and they revised the plan to a now split-bowl design.
UNO is partnering with Scott Woodbury Wiegert, LLC (S2W) to build the new arena and the contractor is Kiewit.
You may ask where UNO is getting all of this money to build a new arena? They plan on $39 million to be donations, $39 million in bond from University of Nebraska, and $3.6 million in UNO funds. The fundraising is being lead by Heritage Services of Omaha and the University of Nebraska Foundation. They plan to pay the yearly operating fees by ticket sales, concessions and premium seating costs.
Students are ready to finally have hockey games on campus.
“I am super excited about the new arena,” Sadie Denker said. “I think that bringing all the sports to one location on campus will be great. I also am hopeful that it will bring more Maverick fans to the games.”
However, some believe the money could be spent elsewhere.
“I do not think we should not build the new arena,” Victor Dinh said. “I believe a parking garage should be built instead. Parking is more important to me at the moment than a new arena.”
A new arena is being built because the Civic Center is now closing, which was the one arena in Omaha that had the perfect amount of room for the Mavericks events. The CenturyLink Center is too big and the recently-built Ralston Arena is too small for the events UNO wants to hold.
UNO is currently also paying to rent multiple arenas around Omaha and does not bring in any money for concessions or as much money as they could for seating. The UNO men’s hockey team does not have a set place to practice and they are the only Division-1 team in the four major conferences that does not have an arena dedicated to them.
“The arena is a game-changer for UNO, enhancing not only Maverick athletics and our move to Division-I, but also recruitment, student life and as a home for university special events,” Chancellor John Christensen said.
In building the new arena, UNO plans to recruit the nation’s top athletes and students from across the country, to make UNO more prevalent in the community, to make the student experience more enjoyable and replace the Civic Center.
“I love that arena will be closer to the school,” Holly Dillard said. “It makes sense. It will connect both North and South campus than having it seem divided.”
The arena is planned to be used for more than a hockey stadium; it will also be available for the community in open skating, graduations and community sports. It may also include junior hockey, figure skating, club hockey, campus recreation space, varsity practice and games, school programs, religious services and concerts. The first priority of the arena is men’s hockey, but they plan to also include mens and womens basketball, volleyball, and intramural sports.
The new arena will hold 7,500 fans for hockey and they are not sure on the seating for the other sports yet. Seventeen suites are being built, 15 of which they will rent out; another is being saved for UNO, and the final one is for the naming partner. It will also include two sheets of ice and concession stands.
As of Oct. 5, the arena was a little above a third of the way complete. They are currently working on the skeleton and plan to have it fully encoded by the hard winter in January. It is on schedule for the first game to be in the 2015 hockey season.
“The project is on schedule and on budget,” said Jim Boeck, project superintendent for Kiewit Building Group.
They are also currently working on naming the arena. Soon they will begin selling tickets for suites and other premium tickets. The costs for those and the overall operating costs still have yet to be determined. They plan on paying it back faster and being in less debt than when the Mid America Center and the Ralston Arena opened.
UNO expects to bring about $1.8 million in on premium seating, $1.3 million in concessions and merchandise, and sponsorship and other ticket sales about $1.2 million, all in the first year. There are already many people asking about premium and suite seating. There will be 750 club seats and a 750 seat student section.
“I think the new arena will be great. It will bring a lot of people together as a community and I am so excited for it to be open,” Tearny Hart said.