Although some windows still are missing and the exterior of the building isn’t completely covered yet, a majority of the building is enclosed, Mortenson construction manager John Hinshaw said.
"We didn't know how quickly the surrounding area would develop," said Dan Marvin, arena project coordinator for the Joint Public Agency, which is overseeing West Haymarket development.
CenturyLink Center Omaha hosted the fewest number of concerts last year since it opened in 2003, but more people walked through its doors -- and it took in nearly $1.2 million in profits -- thanks to major sporting events.
In the past year, at least a dozen new restaurants have opened or announced plans to open downtown. While many of those restaurants have had their eyes on the area for years, at least a few say the arena played a role in deciding to go for it.
In the late 1800s, trains carried people and goods to the western edge of the city, giving birth to restaurants, hotels, saloons and stores. More than 100 years later, a new, $184 million Pinnacle Bank Arena is luring stores, restaurants, bars and hotels.
Nebraska wants to have an opponent in place by the end of March, one from at least a mid-major conference. “It’s a challenge for other teams, because they preferably don’t want to open up a new arena," Nebraska associate athletic director Marc Boehm said.
It has risen swiftly, in glass and steel, spawning economic activity, transforming the energy of a city, and now, it looms straight ahead as motorists on Interstate 180 approach downtown Lincoln.
On Election Day in May 2010, arena supporters were hopeful, but not certain, voters would approve the multi-million-dollar West Haymarket arena.
It will cost the city about $597 million over 35 years to pay off the money borrowed to build the Pinnacle Bank Arena and other West Haymarket public improvements.
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"This is an important building," says architect Stan Meradith. "It's not just a gymnasium. It's a major civic building, and it will be one of, if not the most important building we will build in our lifetime. To put soul into this building, through art, is important. We think this design is timeless."
Seven potential sites were identified, including State Fair Park, the Lancaster Event Center, a swath of land near First Street and Cornhusker Highway and multiple downtown blocks, including the existing site of the civic auditorium, Pershing Center.