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Ralston announces new name, partner for arena

City officials in Ralston will be holding a news conference on Wednesday to unveil the new name...
City officials in Ralston will be holding a news conference on Wednesday to unveil the new name and naming rights partner of the now-former Ralston Arena.(WOWT)
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 9:18 AM CST
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RALSTON, Neb. (WOWT) - Ralston city officials announced a new name for Ralston Arena on Wednesday with naming rights partner Liberty First Credit Union.

The venue, located near 72nd and Q streets, will be called Liberty First Credit Union Arena. The name change becomes official on New Year’s Day.

Liberty First Credit Union Arena will pay around $1.6 million over 10 years to put their name on the arena. Credit union officials believe the investment will pay off.

The Ralston Arena is home to the Omaha Lancers, a number of youth hockey tournaments, and the Omaha Beef football team. Now, all that sporting action will be played in the Liberty First Credit Union Arena.

“Having the access for the hockey leagues and the tournaments and all the things that are done here will bring kind of the name recognition we’re looking for,” said Frank Wilber, President CEO Liberty First Credit Union.

“When we started off it was all new to us.”

Maureen Konwinski was on the city council when the arena project was approved about 10 years ago. The Ralston Arena got off to a rocky start and was losing money.

Konwinski credits the private sector arena management group Spectra for bringing in top events and concerts that are now bringing big crowds.

“I think its forward growth, we have the Hinge project going on, so I think people can come here and go downtown and wander around to the shops,” said Konwinski.

“We’ve eliminated our short-term debt, we’ve increased our general fund and we’ve partnered with a new private sector for $90 million of economic development in the Hinge Redevelopment Project,” said Mayor Don Groesser.

The Ralston Arena is home to the Omaha Lancers, a number of youth hockey tournaments, and the Omaha Beef football team. Now, all that sporting action will be played in the Liberty First Credit Union Arena.

“Having the access for the hockey leagues and the tournaments and all the things that are done here will bring kind of the name recognition we’re looking for,” said Frank Wilber, President CEO Liberty First Credit Union.

“When we started off it was all new to us.”

Maureen Konwinski was on the city council when the arena project was approved about 10 years ago. The Ralston Arena got off to a rocky start and was losing money.

Konwinski credits the private sector arena management group Spectra for bringing in top events and concerts that are now bringing big crowds.

“I think its forward growth, we have the Hinge project going on, so I think people can come here and go downtown and wander around to the shops,” said Konwinski.

Spectra Venue Management has been operating the arena since April 2019. The upcoming schedule at the arena also includes Fluffy, Walker Hayes, Cole Swindell, Alice Cooper, Buckcherry, and more.

Tom Meade says people are wandering around when the arena has big events and some of them are making their way across the street to his 72 Table and Tap.

“In the last year the arena has really kind of taken off a lot of concerts, a lot more concerts than I’ve seen in the past and again, it only helps our business when they have an event,” said Meade.

Ralston City Administrator Rick Hoppe says events and concerts at the arena are attracting larger even record-breaking crowds.

“Country artist Cody Johnson sold out in November shortly before Thanksgiving and broke the arena record for the most profitable night in our history generating $100,000 in net profit. The single greatest night we ever had and we’re doing a lot more of that even in a COVID environment,” said Rick Hoppe.

“Things are going in the right direction in Ralston and Liberty First Credit Union sponsorship is a demonstration of that.”

Ralston city officials say Liberty First Credit Union will pay for the signage change at the arena. Hoppe says Ralston plans to ask the Nebraska Legislature to extend the cap on turnback tax funding from $50 to $100 million.

Hoppe also says the extra time and money would allow for renovations in the arena and help replace arena parking that will be lost when the casino is built at Horsemen’s Park, the arena uses the track parking lot for overflow during big events.

Watch Wednesday’s announcement

Ralston officials announced a new name and corporate partner for Ralston Arena on Wednesday.

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