It all went down Tuesday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Baxter Arena. Students, staff and
alumni converged on the nearly completed arena for a sneak-peak and to test the water utilities inside
the $81.6 million facility.
UNO Director of Student Involvement Bill Pickett said “The Flush Off” would be a great way to test the plumbing while making it a fun event.
“There were a lot of funny puns for the whole thing,” Pickett said. “I had many ladies ask to flush a urinal because they had never seen one before. People on the bottom level kept saying they were in the ‘bowels’ of the arena.”
When Pickett gave the two minute warning over the PA system, he received a message that said, “I have to go now!”
“It was pretty exciting, I mean… having almost 700 people sign up to do this and we can only select
400,” Pickett said. “I felt like there was a lot of people out there excited to get inside the arena and be a part of history. For me, it was just exciting to get to provide that for students.”
The arena boasts a seating capacity of 7,500 for varsity athletics. It houses 17 luxury suites, 750 club
seats and 750 seats reserved for the student section. It is anticipated many more will attend events
as standing room only.
While one competitive area will provide for ice hockey, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball, a second sheet of ice was installed to provide for hockey practice. Ice time and rental equipment such as ice
skates are being made available to students and the greater Omaha community.
Future events will include recreational skating, curling and perhaps even broom ball, a popular
recreational and intramural sport elsewhere.
Merchants and social media are wild with activity. Even the national spokesman for Godfather’s
Pizza, an Omaha-based company and featured food vendor, got in on the act. Located across Center
Road in Aksarben Village, VooDoo Taco, known for “Wicked good tacos,” has achieved new heights in popularity.
Earlier this year, the introduction of their “Taco Cannon” was the highest trending topic
on Twitter, and was featured on CNN. The official taco vendor of Baxter Arena will use the cannon to launch foil-wrapped eats to hungry fans.
#UNOFlushOff was, itself, one of the top trending topics in Omaha on Twitter.
Connor Willingham, international student adviser and himself a UNO alumnus said his first impressions
were nothing short of amazement.
“It is a world-class facility even though it is smaller than the CenturyLink [Center] and it’s the best size for college hockey,” Willingham said. “I’m excited to have hockey and basketball played on our campus, on our terms.”
Initial assumptions were the arena would only host about four non-university events per year, but
that is quickly changing. National touring acts such as Cheap Trick, comedian Jeff Foxworthy, and Nebraska’s
own Larry the Cable Guy have announced performance dates in the first 60 days of official operation.
Opening night of Baxter Arena is scheduled Friday, Oct 23rd. At 7:07, the UNO Maverick hockey team will raise the banner commemorating last year’s appearance.