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May 10, 2011


Omaha area going arena-crazy

by Deena Winter

With the city of Ralston voting on whether to build a $32 million ice and events arena and the University of Nebraska at Omaha interested in building a new ice arena just three miles away, the World-Herald wonders how many arenas is too many for their metro area.

They report that Council Bluffs’ 9-year-old Mid America Center is posting annual losses of about $1 million.

I found this paragraph most interesting:

Ralston, which brought in consultants to study the arena’s feasibility and its finances, projects that the facility will generate a profit from year one. Groesser also predicts the arena will perform so well that Ralston’s property taxes will drop and that it will boost commercial development in a community hungry for economic activity.

Sound familiar? It’s easy to hire consultants who will tell you the arena is feasible and will generate a profit. (Sometimes those same consultants even get a piece of arena work later, as happened in Lincoln with Convention, Sports & Leisure, despite the conflict of interest) Consider this graf about the Mid America Center:

Outside the Mid-America Center, for instance, the largely-empty retail shops — originally intended to enliven the arena area — went into foreclosure and were sold at auction in February. Aside from a Famous Dave’s restaurant, the only tenants are a chiropractor, a Social Security office and a military recruiting center.

As the mayor of Council Bluffs is says in the story, ““When we started, we had the same projections as everybody else — life was going to be rosy.”

Now they’re looking at using the arena for other uses.

Good reporting by the World-Herald. I know how difficult it can be to try to present a fair picture of pros and cons and what’s at stake, when all the city’s bigwigs seem to be behind a project.

12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Roger Yant
    May 10 2011

    I say go for it Omaha! And while at it I believe we need one in Havelock and College View. There are never enough Arenas!

  2. Scott Wendt
    May 10 2011

    “Local developer Jay Lerner, president of the Lerner Co., said retail development wouldn’t automatically follow construction of a sports arena — “they will not come just because you build it.”

    What a wet blanket.

    • ej
      May 17 2011

      And if you think Lincoln’s arena is comparable with Council Bluffs arena you’re almost as out of touch as Jane H Kinsey.

  3. Roberta
    May 10 2011

    Does “Hook Line and Sinker” mean anything to anyone

  4. Jane H Kinsey
    May 10 2011

    O.K., Lincolnites, get ready for a cut in services and/or a property tax raise to fix this year’s budget and another tax or several to support the
    Arena. We told you so! Do you have to be hit in the pocketbook to get the message?

    • Gene
      May 11 2011

      Imagine how much Tammy Buffington would have to raise taxes to cover her $750M deficit.

      • Publius
        May 11 2011

        It’s not about raising taxes. It’s about managing finances correctly.

  5. Jon Duhon
    May 10 2011

    Sorry to rain on the “Hate the Arena/Hate Beutler” parade, but did everyone see that Lincoln was named the 6th best city in America to purchase a home

    • Roger C
      May 11 2011

      What are you doing, trying to ruin Yant’s/Kinsey’s day?

    • don
      May 15 2011

      That’s because of the cover ups.

  6. Don
    May 11 2011

    This is why the city should NOT sale Pershing center I for one still like it better then Devaney or the Quest.

  7. Dave
    May 12 2011

    Can we contract with area Ag producers to store hay?


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