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Concert marks entertainment district debut

Concert marks entertainment district debut

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Yard Party Grand Opening

The Yard Party Grand Opening in Lincoln, Neb., on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013. The outdoor celebration featured live music and the shutdown of Canopy street to allow guests to travel freely between establishments at the Railyard.

Wearing neon yellow bracelets, partiers carried beer and other alcoholic drinks Friday night while walking along Canopy Street in Lincoln's Haymarket during the debut of Nebraska's first entertainment district.

After months of planning and construction, an event billed as a Yard Party closed Canopy Street from Q to R streets for a 21-and-older concert. Security guards checked IDs and handed out wristbands to concertgoers as they entered the fenced-off Railyard area.

Stefanie Warner, event and sponsorship manager for Railyard Entertainment, said 1,103 tickets were pre-sold at $15 each. Tickets could be purchased for $20 on Friday night.

The concert was headlined by the synth-pop duo Holy Ghost! from Brooklyn with the stage set up under The Cube in the Railyard.

City Councilwoman Leirion Gaylor Baird and friend Gena Foster observed from the Public Market while sampling doughnuts from The Doughnut Hole.

After all the discussion, Gaylor Baird said she was interested to see how everything would work out and said she wanted to be part of the scene.

The City Council had granted a special liquor license designation to allow people to buy food and drink from restaurants in the Railyard and walk around between the restaurants with drinks in hand.

The friends were there to enjoy the "great outdoor space" and didn't know much about the band.

Foster, who has lived in Lincoln for 18 years, marveled at how much Lincoln has changed. That transformation includes the recent opening of the Pinnacle Bank Arena with accompanying development, including restaurants, housing and parking.

Jon Ferguson has watched several other events at the Railyard from behind the counter of The Doughnut Hole. He said it's been interesting to watch the crowd change from event to event.

Last Saturday red-clad Husker fans filled the space. On Thursday it was girls in cowboy boots for the Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley concert. And Friday night the hipsters invaded, Ferguson said.

Shortly before Holy Ghost! took the stage Warner said she was pleased with the debut of the entertainment district and the event.

“Everything is going absolutely well,” Warner said. “I’m super thrilled.”

But the night had a few hitches, according to restaurant owners in the entertainment district.

Bars and restaurants were open for the event, but business was slow. Only people who had tickets could eat dinner at the restaurants, which limited the crowd to people who had paid to attend the Yard Party. 

Business at Hiro 88 was slow for a Friday night, said Charlie Yin, part-owner of the sushi restaurant.

Yin said he didn’t think it was fair that members of the public could not eat at the restaurant without paying $20 for a concert ticket.

“We need the full demographic to fill the place,” Yin said.

Debbie Nelson, owner of the Mellow Mushroom, agreed. As of about 7 p.m. she said she had barely sold any beer.

She said business only picked up when she opened her doors facing Pinnacle Bank Arena and allowed families in the pizza parlor. She and other staff members monitored the doors on Canopy Street to make sure no one entered the entertainment district who wasn't allowed.

“This is not an entertainment district to me,” Nelson said. “This is a block party.”

This was the first time trying everything out, Warner said.

"I'm pretty sure by the end of the night they'll be saying they had a great experience," she said about all the businesses involved.

Reach Emily Nitcher at 402-473-2657 or enitcher@journalstar.com.

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The club's gem is a room that can change from a 40-person dance floor up to a 90-100-person venue when the DJ booth is moved back. It also has private VIP booths, dance platforms and a 15-foot LED TV behind the DJ to show music videos or live video of the crowd.

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