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West Haymarket entertainment district

A blocklong stretch of Canopy Street (center) will close to vehicles for special events, allowing people with alcoholic drinks to cross between the Hyatt courtyard (top left, between the buildings) and the Railyard (center). Both courtyards included in this rendering are parts of the West Haymarket entertainment district.

The private developer in charge of the Railyard entertainment district near Pinnacle Bank Arena has a plan to maintain order in the state’s first entertainment district.

There will be armbands, private security guards, roving ambassadors, off-duty police and drink prices no lower than $3, explained Stefanie Warner, hired by WRK Real Estate to oversee the district.

The area encompasses two courtyards on separate blocks between buildings across the street from the arena.

WRK's plan seems to answer many security concerns raised by Lincoln City Council members as they created the entertainment district, similar to a large sidewalk café, where more than half a dozen restaurants will share a large courtyard area.

Council members repeatedly have said they do not want the entertainment district to become another O Street, where police are often needed to maintain control near bar closing time on weekends.

A large number of college-age people are expected to live in apartments that are part of the entertainment district area and to patronize the restaurants and bars in the district.

Customers from all the restaurants will be allowed to mingle, with drinks and food, in the district.

Two courtyard areas will be separated by Canopy Street. The most prominent and likely the most-used courtyard will be called the Railyard, which will include a giant screen — called the Cube — and will be connected with 13 different businesses that serve food and drinks.

The courtyard across the street, called the Hyatt courtyard, is adjacent to the Canopy Lofts apartments, the Hyatt Hotel and two restaurants.

“There has been some confusion in the community about how this is going to work,” Warner said.

A 3-foot wrought-iron fence will mark the edge of the Railyard courtyard, she said.

People will not be allowed to leave either courtyard with drinks, aside from going onto Canopy Street during special events, when the district has gotten specific permission from the City Council to close the street.

WRK likely will be seeking its first such permission, called a special designated license, for the Oct. 5 Husker homecoming game, Warner said.

The courtyards themselves will be open to the public for the first few home games, but only a few of the restaurants will be open for business.

An outline of the major security measures for the entertainment district:

Service

To help curb over-consumption, restaurants and bars will be required to charge no less than $3 for a drink, including shots.

Each restaurant will have its logo on the plastic cups used by people who are in the entertainment district area, and cups that are taken into the courtyard may be no larger than 24 ounces.

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Security

WRK is contracting with a company to provide on-site security. That includes staff to enforce rules, handle interventions, prevent escalation of any incidents, maintain armband rules and handle phone call complaints.

That company also will provide ambassadors — greeters who will welcome patrons to the area and can answer questions about the restaurants and events, and help check IDs and wristbands.

"This is a new concept. They will be a second set of eyes and ears for security," Warner said.

WRK also employ will some off-duty police for larger events, she said. “It will be a good mix of off-duty police, trained security and knowledgeable ambassadors."

Security experts generally recommend a ratio of one security staff person for every 200 patrons, Warner said. For large events, WRK will use a ratio of one to 150, including private security, ambassadors and off-duty police, she said.

The courtyard will be cleared at 1 a.m. each morning, though the restaurants will be able to serve alcohol until 2 a.m.

Armbands

The entertainment district will require customers to wear wristbands for any special event, including times the district gets permission to close Canopy Street.

They also will use armbands starting at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and three hours before arena events.

Dress code, conduct

The security staff also will enforce a code of conduct and a dress code in the Railyard.

That includes no clothing with profanity, no sleeveless shirts or tank tops for men, no exposed undergarments, and no clothing that could be considered a weapon, such as chains or wallets and accessories that have spikes on them.

Unacceptable conduct includes panhandling, loitering, riding bikes, skateboards or roller blades and fighting.

Operation

WRK will use private funds to pay for security and ambassadors, money it makes from ticketed special events in the entertainment district.

The security firm also will take complaints from the public relating to the entertainment district. That does not include poor service at a specific restaurant, Warner noted.

Those complaints will be logged. Warner will review and address the complaints as needed. That log will be provided the City Council when the company applies for its next two-year entertainment district license.

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Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com.

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Reporter

Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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