Arena Talk Freaks Me Out

March 31, 2006 at 1:25pm By: Mr. Wilson Posted in The Lincolnite Blog

I’m all in favor of a new arena and convention center. Pershing Center is old, outdated, and, frankly, a bit embarassing. Let’s call in the developers to build us something we can be proud of.

But the latest arena talk freaks me out.

For one thing, the arena is quickly becoming Lincoln’s own Patrick Deuel in that it keeps growing larger and larger, with no end in sight. Originally planned at 8,000 to 12,000 seats, the arena’s size jumped to 15,000, and then up to 16,000. There’s no reason to think it’ll stop there; Stan Meradith, principal architect with the group that designed the parking garage-like Qwest Center in Omaha, said “If it’s big enough, it’ll be successful. I would contend that we need to think bigger, rather than smaller.” Spoken like somebody with a lot to gain. And check out that logic: “If it’s big enough, it’ll be successful.” Well hell, Stan, why don’t you just whip us up a 100,000 seat arena and we’ll have the most successful darned arena in the world!

It’s also exactly the baloney the public is fed time and time again when these projects are discussed. It’s always “bigger is better” and “build it and they will come”. And yet somehow taxpayers always end up being forced to pony up far more money than they originally agreed to, and the promoters’ projections always end up being off. Funny how that works. Anybody remember the Archway? The project that eventually turned into The Grand?

I counter Mr. Meradith’s contention and instead contend that, to paraphrase him, we need to think smarter, rather than bigger. In the competitive marketplace for huge arenas, Lincoln has a lot of ground to make up. Considering all of the competing arenas in the area—including Kansas City’s new arena that has Omaha’s Qwest Center concerned—how can we honestly think that Lincoln can win merely by cramming more seats under the roof? The Qwest Center is in a panic and is begging for taxpayer bailouts. What makes us so confident that Lincoln’s arena won’t face the same difficulties?

Thinking smarter is difficult because it requires creativity rather than simple one-upmanship. Let’s strive for an arena we can be proud of, not one we merely describe as “big”.

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D.M.B. March 31, 2006 at 5:49pm

While an arena would be a good idea in Lincoln IMO, Omaha beat em to the punch.  They are going to be outdrawn by Omaha anyway. 

IF they are going to build one it needs to be bigger than the qwest.  That is the only way they are going to draw events away from Omaha.

If they build one, they need a permanent tenant.  Don’t bring in some weak as league or even the NBDL (National Basketball Developmental League), it needs to be the University.  While I think Nebraska is already playing in to big an arena for it’s dwindleing program, they are the only tenant that would make this viable.

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