A milestone has been reached in construction of the new home of Husker basketball.
A “topping out” ceremony saw the final steel beam hoisted into place at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, a $168 million structure set to open next fall.
Gov. Dave Heineman praised the work that went into making the new arena happen.
“You look at what’s occurring here, this represents a symbol of progress and how excited we are about the city of Lincoln and the university and where we’re headed,” Heineman stated during the ceremony in downtown Lincoln.
The new arena, constructed in the West Haymarket District in Lincoln, will be more than just the new home for the University of Nebraska Cornhusker men and women’s basketball teams. It will also host concerts and other events. Promoters envision a restaurant and bar district springing up around the arena, similar to the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City next to the Sprint Center.
The “topping out” ceremony is a construction tradition in which the last steel beam in lifted into place with an American flag on one end and an evergreen tree on the other. This ceremony had a bit of a twist. The beam was white and signed by about 3,000 people. The evergreen was decorated like a Christmas tree.
Lincoln voters in 2010 approved a $25 million bond issue, crucial to finance construction of the arena.
University of Nebraska Regent Tim Clare recalled the vote during the ceremony and recalled that 44% of Lincoln voters cast ballots against the bond issue.
“I hope that we were able to convince them that everything we’ve said we were going to do we’ve done. We’ve tried to be transparent. We’ve tried to have a good process,” Clare stated. “So, at the end of the day, they may still be against this project, but they’re going to at least say the project was done right.”
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletic Director Tom Osborne said the arena should give Husker basketball a big boost.
“This will probably be as fine a basketball arena for college basketball as there is in the country,” Osborne stated. “We’ve got our students seated right at mid-court which will give us a good home court advantage.”
The arena is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013.
AUDIO: “Topping Out” ceremony at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln [23:30]