For many of the thousands who attended the first show at Pinnacle Bank Arena, the Capitol Terrace was the first stop.
From the outdoor perch, hundreds surveyed the new condominiums, restaurants and construction and perhaps caught a few final points of the Nebraska-Dayton volleyball match across the way on The Railyard's Cube. They also looked down at the concertgoers not yet inside, who were looking up at them.
There have been opportunities to see inside the arena before Friday night's first concert, but for many, the first big event also marked their first time through the glass doors.
Jordan Miller, 23, stared up at the people on the terrace, and then inside at the massive wall of chocolates as she reached the entrance with her Michael Bublé ticket.
“I voted against it,” she said about the arena. “But it's really nice.”
Behind her, one of a seemingly uncountable number of people wearing black Pinnacle Bank Arena staff polo shirts greeted the crowds.
“Welcome to the Pinnacle Bank Arena,” the worker said. “It's gonna be great. I heard him rehearsing. He's wonderful.”
Inside, snippets of reactions to the GRAND OPENING, as it read on the souvenir lanyards handed out at the gates, blended into each other.
“This is awesome,” said a man in a blazer.
“This is crazy,” said someone else.
“This is a rare opportunity for any entertainer,” said Bublé, after jets of fire shot up to begin his show. “Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time, welcome to the Pinnacle Bank Arena!”
The star of Friday's show had good things to say about his co-headliner — the arena.
"They did a beautiful job. Beautiful job," Bublé said at the beginning of the show. "I can tell you, aesthetically the building is beautiful."
He also complimented the arena's quality as a performance venue. And he repeated his praise at the end of his set:
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is one of the great highlights of my career to be here and open this building for you."
Way to go, Jack
One of the most touching moments of the night was maybe one of the least expected.
A few songs into the set, Bublé turned the attention off himself and onto a “hero” among the crowd.
The lights went dim as a video came on screen featuring little Jack Hoffman and Husker football players Rex Burkhead and Taylor Martinez, likely explaining what the young boy with brain cancer means to them. But you wouldn’t know — concertgoers screamed over the narratives.
The video showed Jack's spring game touchdown run that captured the attention of the nation and earned him an ESPY.
Jack sat in the front row with his family.
Bublé — wearing a red Team Jack wristband — called him a smooth operator, saying how brave Jack is and how proud Bublé is of him.
He told his stage hands to get headphones for Jack to save his ears.
The camera panned back to Hoffman later in the show — the fans went wild again.
First in line
Cyndi Bahler lives four miles from the Colorado border, but on Friday night, she was first in line at the arena.
Bahler and her friend, Janet Keiser of Wauneta, were at the very front of one of the lines. It wasn't an uncommon spot for the two.
"We bought tickets the hour they opened," Bahler said.
The pair decided to grab a hotel room and spend the weekend in Lincoln. They had plans to attend the Husker football game Saturday and shop before heading home.
"We're excited," Bahler said.
The concert was “awesome,” said 10-year-old Cecilia Pieper, and the Pinnacle Bank Arena was too.
“You really gotta go,” Cecilia said.
The arena’s acoustics impressed Lincoln resident Gina Noel, who also enjoyed opening act Naturally 7.
“I didn’t think it would sound so great,” she said as she left the arena.
Justine Petsch, 26, and her mother Jean Petsch, 59, agreed. It didn’t sound like a sports arena, they said.
Though Justine Petsch was underwhelmed with the commemorative souvenir badge, she said she loved the arena and will be back – hopefully for the Jay Z concert on Dec. 1 -- if her mother buys the tickets.
Waiting for the wait list
People hoping to grab dinner in the Haymarket before the 8 p.m. Bublé concert faced long waits and large crowds.
It was so busy at Lazlo's that people had to wait in line to put their name on the wait list in the Haymarket restaurant's lobby.
By 5:30 a large crowd had formed outside the restaurant. Pagers in hand, people waited nearly an hour and a half for a table.
"It's busier than I think we've ever been," one Lazlo's hostess said.
Even closer to the arena, Gate 25 Bar and Restaurant has benefited from being one of the only restaurants open on Canopy Street, said Scott Butler, bar manager.
Friday night was no different.
A hostess at Hiro 88 said the restaurant was booked completely with dinner reservations by Thursday afternoon.
"Business is great," Butler said, adding that the restaurant and bar has been busy every day since it opened two weeks ago.
Along for the ride
Jonathan Zach’s wife and Mitchell McVicker’s mother went to the concert while Zach and McVicker hung out in The Railyard and drank beer.
The two never were included in the concert plans, though they said they didn't mind at all.
“I’m just their ride,” Zach said.
Buzzing with Bruins
Michael Rodriguez, a UCLA football fan from Fontana, Calif., admired The Cube, the giant screen in The Railyard restaurant and bar area.
Rodriguez, 47, said his first trip to Lincoln gave him a “sense of home.”
The Canopy Street and Haymarket areas impressed and reminded him in ways of the buzz of Los Angeles, but on a smaller scale.
“This is outstanding.”
Buble all about the Huskers
Before the show, Michael Buble recorded an Instagram video holding a Husker helmet.
“I’m in Lincoln, Nebraska, tonight and it’s a big one. I get to open the Pinnacle Bank Arena, which means I’m the first ever act to be here, to play. It’s a huge honor to be part of what’s going to be a really rich history. Go Cornhuskers.”
Later in the night, Buble told a stagehand to not give him another jacket. “Go get my uniform.”
She brought out a black Husker No. 13 jersey – similar to the alternate jersey Taylor Martinez will wear Saturday morning versus UCLA.
The crowd, of course, loved it.
During a back and forth with the string section, which was from Lincoln, he asked them what they liked to do.
One “dainty” woman, as he put it, said Husker football and that she hoped the Huskers “kick the s*** out of UCLA tomorrow.”
Buble dedicated the next song to the UCLA football team: the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”
Props to the pedicab
Amid all the traffic, Dustin Roth pedaled Mike and Karen Furmanski down to Canopy Street on his pedicab.
The Furmanskis were his first customers of the night and were heading down to Buffalo Wings & Rings in The Railyard to meet friends for dinner.
“The cars are stacked up, and he’s able to wind around here,” said Karen Furmanski.
She walks with a cane and called Roth and his service a “godsend.”
Last Saturday, Roth drove 50 miles on pedicab, he said. He expected Friday might be another long night.
Lori Cole and Randy Fisher got their tickets for the concert a couple of weeks ago. Cole is the Bublé fan, Fisher said, and he’s “just here for moral support.”
“He’s afraid he’s gonna be the only man at the concert,” Cole joked.
The two hope to marry in the next year — and, in the meantime, Cole hopes to score tickets for the Oct. 20 Bon Jovi concert, too.
'Just don't hit anybody'
In front of an orange and white barricade, traffic control man Don steered dozens of cars backed up on R Street down North Seventh Street toward the Haymarket.
“Follow the rest of those cars there,” he said, as motorists repeatedly asked him how to get to the new parking garage near Pinnacle Bank Arena.
He started directing cars in front of the Post Office at 5 p.m., and he suspected he’d fall right to sleep Friday night after repeating directions ad nauseam.
“Just don’t hit anybody,” he directed one car.
Happy birthday, Doris
What is it like to have 15,000-plus peo`ple sing you “Happy Birthday?”
Ask Doris. She celebrated Friday in a big way.
“I wanted you for my birthday,” the feisty 89-year-old told Michael Buble after he pulled her on stage.
Doris, whose last name was inaudible, wore a tiara to the show.
Her friends and family made a ruckus during the encore, catching Buble’s attention.
He pulled her up on stage and asked the crowd to sing to her.
She thanked them, then grabbed the mic: “I got to tell you, 1924 was a great year for vintage wine and sexy broads.”
Buble, known to be edgy on stage, quipped: “You’re never too old, or too young to learn. She could teach me a thing or two.”
'Michael needs me'
Monica McDonnell, Amy Huber and seven of their girlfriends bought their tickets in March and drove in from Omaha for the concert.
Their husbands stayed home.
“They didn’t have a choice,” Huber said.
McDonnell — who hoped Bublé would pull her on stage for a duet — agreed. The concert called to them.
“Michael needs me.”