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2005 Media Releases

October 27, 2005
For More Information Contact:
Diane Gonzolas, Citizen Information Center, 441-7831
Mark Bowen, Mayor’s Office, 441-7511

Events Facility Task Force Report PDF - 53K

Mayor Calls Arena Task Force Report Guide For Future Event Facilities

Mayor Coleen J. Seng today thanked the Event Facility Task Force members for recommending a sensible cost efficient strategy for Lincoln to follow in planning for a future arena and convention center and for recommending that the Nebraska State Fair and the Lancaster County Fair consolidate at a single location.

“I appreciate the Task Force members’ hard work. A phased approach that takes into account timing, financing ability by the community and a unified governance is the best approach,” Seng said. “This report will be a guide as we develop the right event facilities to serve Lincoln for many years to come. I will begin working with the other local government entities to seek agreement on this approach. Partnerships will be a key to making the recommendations in the report a reality.”

Mayor Seng appointed to the Task Force representatives of the State of Nebraska, the City of Lincoln, the Lancaster County Board, State Fair Park, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the Lancaster Events Center, the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Lincoln Association, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the West Haymarket Business Study Group and the Lincoln Independent Business Association. Dick Campbell of the Lincoln Chamber of Commerce served as Chair.

Mayor Seng directed the Task Force to examine which proposals offer the best opportunity to meet the sports, conference, convention and entertainment markets that generate the most economic opportunity for Lincoln; discuss the source of the proposals’ funding and the impact on the taxpayers’ obligation to subsidize any of the proposals; examine how to prevent duplication and whether proposals can be combined or partnered; and discuss which proposals provide the most flexibility and opportunity for partnership.

The report recommends that:

  • Lincoln should build a new arena to replace Pershing Center. The new arena should be built as close as possible to shopping, restaurants and entertainment, and the Task Force recommends the West Haymarket area.
  • Lincoln also should pursue a private developer to build a new hotel/convention center located near the new arena.
  • The State Fair Board and the Lancaster County Agricultural Society should combine their operations into a single location. A decision on whether that should be at State Fair Park or the Lancaster Events Center should be based on an analysis of each of the current sites and the costs to improve either site in a manner to serve both entities.
  • All the governmental bodies involved should approach the issue of event facilities in a unified manner that produces an integrated plan. The Mayor should appoint a group to oversee development of that plan.
  • The community should explore a new coordinated governance structure for all Lincoln’s event facilities that would eliminate competition and maximize advantages.

The Task Force also urged that any existing plans to expand or develop event facilities be placed on hold until an integrated plan is complete. The report indicates that the integrated plan could be completed in about six months.

In accepting the report, Mayor Seng directed the Task Force to continue working with the State Fair and Lancaster County Agricultural Society to develop an integrated plan and financial study to reunite the State Fair and Lancaster Event Center into a single location. The Task Force also will be charged with developing an integrated financial plan for an arena/hotel/convention facility in the Haymarket area.

“It is time to rebuild the relationship between State Fair and the Ag Society,” said Mayor Seng. The Task Force’s objective analysis and attention to detail can help prevent duplication of public agricultural fair facilities and help reunite the State Fair and Lancaster County Agricultural Society. If the two entities combine efforts and go after the agriculture trade shows, I believe they can achieve some great successes.”

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