Roughly six years into its existence, the Railyard area has yet to live up to its full potential.
Sure, the open-air entertainment district in the Haymarket tends to be packed for Nebraska football games and for concerts or basketball games across the street at Pinnacle Bank Arena. The outdoor ice rink, too, can draw plenty of skaters during the winter.
Despite this, the area is empty far more often than it’s full.
A representative of Hurrdat, the Lincoln-based company now running the Railyard, told the Journal Star that it hopes to make the facility “a community hub for everybody.” The editorial board couldn’t agree more, though converting that statement into reality will be more easily said than done.
New management can make a difference by expanding past the typical attractions — Husker sports and concerts aren’t moving anywhere anytime soon — and getting creative to draw people downtown.
Concerts, for instance, would be mostly unexplored territory for the Railyard. With a stage and screen on one end, food and drink options on the other and lots of space for guests in the middle, the setup lends itself nicely to small, intimate shows — a category in which Lincoln has long excelled.
Plus, a similar venue — the Power and Light District in Kansas City, Missouri — has made live music one of its calling cards. A variety of concert series aim to bring people to this outdoor, two-story nucleus of its lively downtown several nights a week.
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Another form of entertainment that was also mentioned, movie nights, will be a pricey proposition. The rights to show a film without express permission from the powers that be run several thousand dollars a pop, so we’d encourage new management to tread carefully there.
One final suggestion: Turnover among the Railyard’s bars and restaurants has hindered its growth, with many of the departed businesses publicly citing high rents as the cause for their moves. Stability among food and drink options would be a welcome change of pace for guests.
With ample open space and a location in the heart of the Haymarket, the possibilities for the Railyard are limitless. And we’re eager to see the 90 to 110 events per year in this space its new operators are initially targeting, as this intriguing location hasn’t reached full bloom.
Festivals. Food. Family events. Community celebrations. The list goes on and on.
And, because guests can freely carry alcoholic drinks within its boundaries, the Railyard is unlike any other entertainment area in Lincoln.
Our hope is that it grows into all it can be under new management, which has the ambitious types of goals needed for this vital downtown site.