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UNO arena gets $87 million budget approval

University of Nebraska at Omaha leaders have approved an $87.9 million budget for a new arena.

The design has been revised to a split-bowl seating plan, which will allow the top bowl to be closed off during smaller events. It will offer student, club and suite seating. The 7,500-seat arena’s price tag had previously been estimated at $76.3 million. The school plans to pay the $11.6 million in additional costs with $4 million more in bonds, $4 million more in private donations and $3.6 million in university funds.

In March, when the Board of Regents initially approved the project, Chancellor John Christensen said:

The arena is a game changer for UNO – enhancing not only Maverick Athletics and our move to Division I, but also recruitment, student life and as a home for university special events. As importantly, this facility will provide a wide range of opportunities for community use, as a similarly-sized replacement for the Civic Auditorium, in addition to serving as a wonderful complement to Aksarben Village and midtown redevelopment.

Construction of the University/Community arena is planned to start in late 2013 with an expected completion date of June 2015. Once built, the arena will be the home of UNO hockey; men’s and women’s basketball; and volleyball; as well as serving as additional space for academic activities and gatherings. The arena also will significantly enhance student life on the UNO campus and provide long-term stability for UNO Athletics.

In addition, the University/Community arena will provide the Omaha community enhanced entertainment venue opportunities, including graduation ceremonies and recreation, and provide a significant investment in a growing area of the city.

Trev Alberts, Director of UNO Athletics, said:

I’d like to thank the Board of Regents for its support of the arena project. Our goal is to deliver a vibrant, relevant athletic department that contributes to the overall advancement of the university in a fiscally responsible way. The positive impact this project will have on our student-athletes and coaches is hard to overstate.

One significant impact will be on the UNO hockey team, which currently plays at the CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha, but regularly has to practice at the Omaha Civic Auditorium, which is scheduled to be demolished in 2014. Dean Blais, UNO head hockey coach, said:

To build a championship calibre programme, you need outstanding practice and game facilities. This arena will put Maverick hockey on par or ahead of its peers and allow us to recruit the kinds of student-athletes who will help us compete for championships each year.