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Lincoln boosters vowed Wednesday to try again next year after a bill that would have helped the city build a new arena died Tuesday.

“Obviously it was something we wanted to have this year,” said Wendy Birdsall, interim president of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and president of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“It would have ignited a fire under us to get serious about building an arena.”

“But it can happen next year,” she said.

Not without educating next year’s new senators. Lincoln Sens. David Landis and Chris Beutler, who championed this bill, will be term-limited out of office next years, she pointed out.

On Tuesday, Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers withdrew his agreement on two tax incentive bills, both being pushed by the Omaha business community, saying Omaha leaders had insulted the Legislature and his north Omaha community.

Over the weekend, Omaha business leaders criticized the Legislature’s decision to split the Omaha Public Schools district into three districts. And the Omaha City Council again refused to name a North Omaha park after Chambers on Tuesday, despite a request by the neighborhood the park be named after the veteran senator.

White leaders from Omaha made “an unfair and slanderous attack against the Legislature,” Chambers said of the business leaders’ criticism of the school plan.

They “were extolling racial diversity and what you saw was a line of swanky, old white men,” Chambers said.

Lincoln Sen. David Landis pulled the two tax incentive bills from the agenda Tuesday afternoon, saying the agreement with Chambers was no longer in effect.  Bills had to gain second-round approval Tuesday to pass this year.

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Lincoln could have used one of the bills (LB500) on a new arena and convention center complex to replace Pershing Center.

Much of the sales tax revenue from hotels near an area designated for the arena and convention center could have been used for early development.

Later, sales tax revenue from the arena and new businesses in the area could have paid off bonds.

Reach Nancy Hicks at 473-7250 or

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