Omaha Considering New Digs

Aesthetically, Nebraska-Omaha plays in perhaps the nicest arena in all of college hockey with the roughly 17,000 seat Qwest Center. It's a beautiful new arena on par with what you'd expect from an NHL arena. But aside from being an NHL-level building, practically nothing else about UNO's set-up at the Qwest works for Nebraska-Omaha, which is why UNO is looking into a new, smaller on-campus arena for their hockey team.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Qwest Center is that it's simply too big for the UNO hockey team. Was 6th in the country in average attendance last year with over 6000 fans per game, but their arena looked empty, even with large sections of the upper deck covered by a sheet. It was a far cry in atmosphere from their old arena, the Omaha Civic Center, which was considered one of the loudest, toughest buildings to play in. UNO really had to to play in an arena of that size, which was owned by the city. UNO went from making a lot of money on their hockey program at the Civic Center, to losing a little bit of money at the Qwest, in part because of the cost of their lease.(Side note: if those numbers are accurate and UNO was actually losing money on hockey, the move to the WCHA seems like such a no-brainer.) There are also issues with UNO being a secondary tenant in the building, and having to move back the Civic Center for events like the Nebraska state wrestling tournament.

The proposed arena sounds like a perfect fit for UNO. At 7 to 8 thousand seats, it's gives them a little room for growth from where they're at now, but not so big that the building won't look full on most nights, and they'll have their own practice rink to use as well. Say what you will about Trev Alberts, but if he gets this done, he'll be 2 for 2 on major decisions at UNO, which is pretty good.

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