Cost of New UNO Arena Detailed

Jake Wasikowski

Cost of New UNO Arena Detailed

CREATED Mar. 14, 2013

Omaha, NE -- UNO's crunching the numbers to get ready for their new arena.  It may be calling for taxpayer dollars.  The arena makes sense for the university but does it make sense for citizens?

The site of the new UNO Arena is still a ways from turning dirt, but the vision and bill are becoming clearer.  The University of Nebraska-Omaha estimates a cost of $76 million with the majority coming from NU Facilities Corp Financing and private donations.  But it indicates the City of Omaha may have to shell out up to $6.3 million, likely for infrastructure.

Taxpayers have already been on the hook for tens of millions for the CenturyLink Center.  Doug Kagan, with Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom says the city already set a bad precedent by using a cigarette tax, to help pay for UNMC's Cancer Center.

“We think the developer, if they're going to hire a private development company, the developer should pay for the streets and the sewers and the other infrastructure," Kagan explained.

UNO says they're building because they want to consolidate hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball in one building for games and some practice.  They say the CenturyLink Center is too expensive to rent, and too big because they're losing season ticketholders.  It would be the 5th arena in the metro with more than 3,000 seats though the Civic Auditorium is closing in 2014.

A representative for Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle said the city budget doesn't have $6 million to contribute to the project.  They are working with UNO to find other options to help them get that portion of the money.  It would have to be approved by the city council.

The Nebraska University Board of Regents will vote on the plan and budget at their meeting on Friday.