• Video: Click here for a look at the arena on Tuesday.
• Click here to see a comparison of area arenas.
Ralston leaders are taking time to show off the suburb's new $36 million arena and hoping the sparkling facility gives a strong first impression.
The city-owned Ralston Arena was unveiled during a media tour Tuesday that coincided with a U.S. Foods corporate event taking place in the new multipurpose event center.
The arena's debut week will be busy.
On Wednesday, Ralston residents can tour the facility, located near 72nd and Q Streets, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Then on Thursday night, the University of Nebraska at Omaha will host a sports banquet catered for at least 400 people.
Friday, the arena will hold its first major event, a concert by country music act Rodney Atkins' concert, at 7:30 p.m. A public open house and formal ribbon-cutting is from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Mayor Don Groesser said he wants people to leave with the impression that the new facility is clean and beautiful.
“I hope people realize there is not a bad seat in the house, and they can be part of the action,” Groesser said.
The Ralston Arena is a multi-use sports and events center that will be anchored by the Omaha Lancers of the United States Hockey League. Other tenants include the University of Nebraska at Omaha men's basketball, the Omaha Beef indoor football team, Omaha Rollergirls and the Omaha Heart lingerie football team.
The arena's seating capacity for Omaha Lancers hockey is about 4,020. Concerts will be able to host 4,000 to 5,000 spectators. The arena features 12 luxury suites, 177 club seats and two club rooms with 18 seats apiece. The arena has 15 restrooms and about 1,200 parking stalls with free parking.
Additionally, an auxillary hockey rink, geared for youth hockey and men's amateur games, can accommodate up to about 500 fans. The arena features a banquet room for up to 400 people.
Ralston projects it will draw about 180 annual events and more than 350,000 visitors.
Groesser said it will be easier to book more events and tenants now that the arena is open.
“We've been getting phone calls all the time, but nobody has been able to see it,” Groesser said. “I've got to say, 'Trust me. It's going to be a great facility.'”
So far, Ralston has booked about 125 different events over the coming year.
Ralston has a projected goal of generating about $1.5 million in revenue during its inaugural year of business, according to arena general manager Curtis Webb.
Most of the arena's revenue will come from in-house food and beverage sales.
Webb said it's crucial for Ralston to attract dozens of annual corporate trade shows, banquets, family entertainment shows, wedding receptions, mixed-martial arts shows and rodeos to keep the arena buzzing during the down time when major sports teams are not playing.
Between the banquet hall and the two-sheet ice rink, Ralston will be able to hold as many as three different events at the same time.
Webb said five wedding receptions already have been booked for next spring, and he's in the process of booking a variety of events.
“We just want people to have a good time, and we want them to return,” Webb said.
The arena was built on the site of a former nine-hole golf course. Ralston voters overwhelmingly approved the arena in May 2011.
“Fifteen months ago, it was just a hole in the ground,” Groesser said. “This is really a dream come true.”
Area arenas competing for events
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