Nebraska’s first official men’s basketball opponent in the Pinnacle Bank Arena likely won't be one of the Huskers’ former foes from the Big 12 Conference.
That, Nebraska associate athletic director Marc Boehm said, would’ve been ideal. But only two teams, Iowa State and Kansas State, showed initial interest, and both since have pulled their names from contention.
“The others (in the Big 12) have just flat-out said no,” Boehm said. “We haven’t contacted every single team, but the majority.”
Nebraska wants to have an opponent in place by the end of March, one from at least a mid-major conference.
“It’s a challenge for other teams, because they preferably don’t want to open up a new arena," Boehm said, "but with that said, we’re making a little bit of progress in that area.”
The Nebraska women’s basketball team, meanwhile, will open its season at Pinnacle Bank Arena on Nov. 8 against a team he labeled a “top program.” He can’t reveal the team, however, until the contract has been signed.
Nebraska also has submitted a bid to host the first and second rounds of the 2014 NCAA women’s basketball tournament and should learn of the NCAA's decision by the end of the year. Boehm said there’s “no question” Nebraska also would bid to host an NCAA volleyball tournament regional in future years.
The likelihood of hosting first- and second-round games in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament isn’t as certain, although Boehm won’t rule out the possibility. One question is whether Lincoln has enough hotel rooms to meet NCAA requirements.
“We think we might be in the ball park because of the hotels that are going up in the Haymarket district,” Boehm said. “We’re going to give (the NCAA) all the information we have and all the new developments and criteria and go from there.
“There is a chance. We just have to put it on paper and get it in.”
University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduation will move from the Devaney Sports Center to the new arena next winter.
As for beer sales at Nebraska basketball games in the new arena, that won’t happen immediately, if at all.
“That’s to be determined in the future,” Boehm said, noting the University of Nebraska Board of Regents has final say on that matter.