Lincoln Gets Arena Hungry

The Midwest has new arenas cropping up all over the place – from Oklahoma City to Tulsa to Omaha – and it looks like Lincoln, Neb., will soon join the party.

Lincoln has kept a 16,000-capacity arena project on the backburner for more than a decade. But it appears the time is nigh for the $350 million venue, which would presumably house the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s men’s and women’s basketball teams, to be planted in the Haymarket district. Mayor Chris Beutler hopes to put the project on a May ballot, according to the Omaha World-Herald.

He said at a press conference Lincoln has a “narrow window” to make a decision and pledged there would be no property taxes involved in the proposition.

Buttressing support is sports consulting company Leib Advisors, which said the arena could generate $260 million in annual economic activity and create 1,200 jobs, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. The arena could attract 1.1 million people annually by its fourth year of operation compared with the current average of the 50-year-old Pershing Center, which counts 650,000 visitors.

Leib also touted $804 million in economic activity during construction and, after four years of operation, a $44 million economic impact, the paper said.

“My gut feeling is this is a good market, that this arena should do well,” Leib Advisors’ Michael O’Sullivan told the Journal Star.

He admitted, though, that consultants are rarely hired to do post-project analysis to see how close their projections matched reality.