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The central scoreboard in the Qwest Center arena is likely to need replacing sometime in the next four years, officials say.


JEFF BUNDY/THE WORLD-HERALD


Qwest ready for face-lift

Time flies, and carpet and wallpaper grow thin.

The Qwest Center Omaha is starting to show some age after six years of concerts and conventions and more than 7 million visitors. Officials at the center are beginning to plan for expensive renovation projects, including replacing more than 120,000 square feet of carpet.

A new scoreboard also may be purchased within the next four years.

The renovations will be the start of an ongoing effort to keep the Qwest Center as up-to-date and spiffy as possible. Exactly how much will be spent over the coming years is unknown, but a good share of the center's $12 million reserve fund and future profits may go toward improvements.

“If we don't keep the building up, then people will quit coming,” said Roger Dixon, president of the Metropolitan Entertainment and Convention Authority board.

The board oversees the Qwest Center, the city's premier entertainment venue on the riverfront. It hosts some of the area's biggest concerts, conventions, trade shows and sporting events.

The convention center and arena opened in 2003, after voters approved the sale of $198 million in bonds.

At the time, the decision was made to repay the bonds through the city's coffers and tax revenue generated by the Qwest Center, and any operating profit would be used to maintain a quality building.

Supporters of the Qwest Center wanted to ensure that it always had the money to maintain a fresh and bright look, so it didn't take on the dingy feel of a cash-strapped government building.

“The city takes care of the bond debt. We take care of operations,” said Dixon.

During each of the past two years, the center has generated about $3.7 million in operating profit. That money and past profits have been used to build a $12 million reserve fund.

That fund will be used toward the upcoming renovations, which will be spread over the next two or three years.

The proposed upgrades are not the first at the Qwest Center.

In 2006, the center finished a $6 million expansion project, which included 1,500 additional seats and more concession areas and restrooms at the north end of the arena.

Any renovations done at the Qwest Center are — by their very nature — a large undertaking.

The entire building totals about 1 million square feet. In addition to the arena and the convention floor, the Qwest Center has 16 meeting rooms, more than 200 toilets, a large kitchen and 12 concession stands.

It also has lots of carpet, which must be replaced before it becomes “ragged,” said Dixon.

It will take about $2 million to replace the custom-blend carpet.

New wallpaper will cost $1 million. And it will cost $1 million to put new upholstery on the 15,000 chairs in the arena and to reupholster the folding chairs used on the floor during concerts.

Another big purchase may be replacing the scoreboard in the center of the arena, probably sometime in the next four years. A scoreboard becomes outdated after about 10 years as new technology and newer and clearer scoreboards are developed, Dixon said.

A new scoreboard will cost about $4 million to $5 million, compared with the $2 million spent for the current scoreboard.

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of labor to keep this facility up,” said Dixon.

Contact the writer:

444-1309, robynn.tysver@owh.com


Contact the Omaha World-Herald newsroom


Copyright ©2009 Omaha World-Herald®. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, displayed or redistributed for any purpose without permission from the Omaha World-Herald.

21 Comments

Posted by: Marian on 11/09/09 @ 8:43 am:

I hope the updates might include recycling bins to collect aluminum cans separately from trash. I have seen them in airports and other large venues.

Posted by: CreightonFan on 11/09/09 @ 8:51 am:

What happens to the old scoreboards when replaced? Seems like a waste of money!

Posted by: John on 11/09/09 @ 9:17 am:

RENOVATIONS???????????????????????????
How about taking those millions and pay off the debt of the Qwest!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jon on 11/09/09 @ 9:42 am:

First people complain about not getting top notch concerts and sporting events, now we have them, and people can't understand why we need to keep the Qwest up-to-date? Get real people. The Qwest was under-built to begin with, continuous renovations is neccessary to keep what we have so we don't go backwards. Or we could go the cheaper route and have 2 civic auditoriums!

Posted by: PlusSize on 11/09/09 @ 10:41 am:

Hopefully, Qwest Center will have more seats accomodating plus sized people. Don't know why the seats are smaller than other places.

Posted by: Proudone on 11/09/09 @ 10:57 am:

Iam proud to be in a city with such a facility. I think it helps keep young people in Omaha and therefore companies that utilize the young people's talents - Paypal, TD Ameritrade etc...Spend what is necessary to keep it up within the budget.

Posted by: who cares on 11/09/09 @ 11:21 am:

What top notch concerts? A bunch of geezer rock that we saw previously at the Civic. That, or Country Western mind kill.

Posted by: um ok on 11/09/09 @ 11:29 am:

maybe you plus size people should lose some weight..

Posted by: andy on 11/09/09 @ 11:48 am:

ahhh, its so refreshing to see such negativity! When you need to take care of your home, you put money into what needs fixing and updating. I've never heard of someone skipping maintenance on their home and just paying off their mortgage.

Posted by: WOWOMAHA on 11/09/09 @ 12:10 pm:

Okay, yes the Qwest center was expensive... but plus-sized seats, get real... go on a diet... we need to keep this facility up-to-date and use money wisely, carpet, wallpaper, upgrades, yes, more seating... yes, and I would even go as far as to upgrade sound systems and common areas of the arena to make it more flashy -- all wise investments for an ENTERTAINMENT complex that brings in millions every year!

Posted by: Michael on 11/09/09 @ 12:12 pm:

I will agree that Qwest needs new video boards asap. I recommend HD video boards. I don't have a problem with Qwest wanting to keep up with everyone else. Meca runs a tight ship and it shows. I have been to many other arenas across the country and we are fortunate to have as nice as Qwest Center. I will agree they should of made it around 20,000 capacity and cut down on the convention space. The reason why the concerts we get in Omaha is demographic. Omaha is a classic rock, country town. Hip Hop acts tickets don't make profit here in Omaha. That is why you see these acts skip Omaha for Denver and Kansas City. The concert business is expensive and to put on a show and make profit is hard to do. I think Qwest/Meca is here to stay.

Posted by: DJ on 11/09/09 @ 12:21 pm:

I was thinking, why come out with this now when things just aren't that good for people and the spending? Taxes, Taxes. Sure they have the money good for them. But we are paying for everything else.
They just want us to know thy have money. LOL>>> I'm not happen about the ball Park and the way things were done to get it. But life goes on and once I'm gone my kids will end up paying for all this, nice going Omaha. I have never been to the Quest yet and I'm not sure I will either as for the ball Park I will never go there. I'm not that much into baseball I love hockey and they are plaing in the Old Center, what gives there?

Posted by: Jon on 11/09/09 @ 12:35 pm:

hey who cares-
I'm sure the NCAA would have been beating down the doors to get the Civc to host 1st round tourney, Olympic try-outs, NCAA Women's V-ball, should I keep going? While I may not like all the concerts that come into town either, I'll take a sell-out crowd at the Qwest over the Civic any day! Let me guess, you were against the new baseball stadium too, right?! Sometimes, you need to look at the bigger picture, regardless of if you like it or not.

Posted by: What? on 11/09/09 @ 1:38 pm:

To who cares:

You may want to do some research before opening your mouth. The Qwest has brought concerts to Omaha that NEVER would have gone to the Civic.

You whiners crack me up.

Posted by: Scott on 11/09/09 @ 2:23 pm:

Yes I would have to agree. The Qwest Center is a world class facility and something for the people of Omaha to be proud of. I have also been to many different venues for concerts and especially games, and there are very few if any that rival in comparison to the Qwest. Most of them look big and boxy and as the article states, "look like cash strapped gov't buildings". My only arguement is that the arena wasn't built to seat more and that the convention hotel was built far too small, and as a result has lost some conventions. Overall this facility is remarkable and improvements need to be continually made to ensure it stays that way.

Posted by: John on 11/09/09 @ 3:10 pm:

To andy: Ok you pay my taxes that go to pay the debt at the Qwest. Then come tell me they shouldn't be using at least some of the money to pay it off.

Posted by: opinions on 11/09/09 @ 3:28 pm:

I am new- again to Omaha. I miss the Civic. I have been to Qwest for concerts, and either you sit so far away you can't see anything- might as well watch the dvd, or, the seats are too expensive to buy. I opt not to see shows at Qwest. I Like the Mid America Center- smaller, more personal venues. To each their own.

Posted by: ICARE on 11/09/09 @ 3:51 pm:

whocares;

The Qwest ranks in the top 10 if not top 5 in the world for ticket sales. They must be bringing the concerts/evnts to town that most people want to see. As for the seating, the original Qwest was supposed to have 17,500 seats but Fahey scrapped it, and two or three years later we had to pay over double what is would have cost to add the additional seatingin first phase, he also scrapped the 20 story hotel that would have had twice as many rooms as the current Hiton which also would have brought in move events.

Posted by: Concerned on 11/09/09 @ 4:05 pm:

It is great that MECA does such a good job with the Qwest. What about the Music Hall? It is a disgrace. It is dirty, full of bugs & mold. The restrooms are unsanitary. After a 3-day weekend for a dance competition, my daughter was sick from eating nachos & red hot dogs. I have approached MECA about improving the conditions of the Music Hall & was met with indifference. It is a shame that we invest so much money into one facility and ignore & neglect another.

Posted by: Me on 11/09/09 @ 4:42 pm:

HD videoboards are needed NOW! The current scoreboard seemed out of date from the start, IMO.

Posted by: GlfHack on 11/09/09 @ 9:22 pm:

All I ask for is speakers that project toward the glass from behind my seats at the hockey games. I sit in the corner on the glass and can't understand a word the announcer says......

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