UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

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omaha79
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UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 1:14 pm

I didn't see this mentioned on here, but it looks like everything is starting to make more sense in terms of some of the odd decisions coming out of the UNO athletic department including firing multiple arena employees, having Mike Kemp run the arena, the baseball stadium seemingly on the back burner now, the baseball team rumored to be playing at Werner Park, but nothing coming out about it, and maybe even the firing of Bob Herold.

Those that have been following the program over the last 6 months have speculated that UNO athletics was, once again, running into financial issues. Finally, we are getting some specifics from the World Herald.

http://www.omaha.com/news/metro/baxter- ... 8b238.html

http://www.omaha.com/news/metro/move-to ... c53fb.html

The new arena itself was $1.5 million in the red last year. The athletic department overall was $1.8 million in the red. It doesn't appear, from what I'm reading, that the arena debt is included in the athletic department debt. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the way I'm reading these two articles, which were oddly left unconnected by the OWH (possibly to minimize the impact?), seems to indicate the school lost over $3 million between the arena and the athletic department last season.

While the articles bring this information to light, there is a decidedly positive spin put on it by all involved including the OWH. I wonder how much of that is the OWH bowing to the movers and shakers in Omaha, including those in Heritage Services which includes John Gottschalk who has deep ties with the newspaper?

I've been a fan of the program for years and I'm still pro Baxter Arena, but this seems like a huge red flag to me even though everyone quoted in the article including Alberts, Bounds, and Christensen want to make it seem like it's not a big deal. I also wonder what the long term ramifications of this will end up being? The article says Alberts is cutting $600k from the athletic department budget, but that it won't directly affect any of the teams. The article doesn't elaborate, but I don't see how UNO can cut that much money from the budget without it affecting the teams directly. Also, I wonder what the long term ramifications will be for Trev Alberts? I've mostly agreed with what he's done for the program. Even though the way football and wrestling were cut turned out to be a mess and a huge black eye for the department, it was ultimately the right decision. Still, this is his baby. He admits in the article that the miscalculations in the revenue estimates are on him. If this can't be fixed, is his job on the line if UNO sinks back into the fiscal nightmares of the mid 00's?

I hate that this is happening. I still firmly believe D-I and Baxter Arena were the only way to keep UNO athletics viable in the 21st century, but I'm afraid of what this means going forward. Could programs like baseball be on the chopping block? Would that further splinter the fanbase and lead to more financial losses?

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. The one difference between now and the mid 00's is that UNO athletics is now too big to fail. There was talk in 2011 that if UNO didn't get its financial house in order, athletics might be dropped entirely. I would imagine that's not even a possibility now that Baxter Arena exists. Even if it's broken, it's bought and has to succeed even if that means tapping reserves and general funds for decades to come. Not a great solution, but that's where we are now.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby HskrFanMike » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:04 am

What are you going to do, if you are UNO?

Clearly, the financial assumptions for building the arena were completely wrong. But guess what, so were the numbers that Ralston and Council Bluffs used. (I suspect the numbers Sarpy County used for the ballpark were all wrong, but they've kept that to themselves.) Baxter was offered as the solution to UNO's financial issues, but instead it made things even worse.

But the money's spent. It's gone. It's wasted.

You can't undo it. There is no market for used arenas. Unless NU wants to declare bankruptcy, NU has to deal with the price of this for the next 25 years.

Should UNO have stayed downtown at the CenturyLink Center for hockey and in Ralston for hoops? The results made the case pretty clear: absolutely. But you can't change your mind now. (Well, you could, but you'd be paying for two arenas then.)

The good news is that our clusterf* of building redundant sports facilities is over now for the next 20 years or so.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Tue Sep 06, 2016 9:54 am

You forgot the one that might be off the most, Century Link Center.


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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby HskrFanMike » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:43 am

Greg S wrote:You forgot the one that might be off the most, Century Link Center.


Greg


From what I understand, the Clink is the area's most successful arena. Convention Center has issues, but the arena had been doing well for years.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:01 am

HskrFanMike wrote:
Greg S wrote:You forgot the one that might be off the most, Century Link Center.


Greg


From what I understand, the Clink is the area's most successful arena. Convention Center has issues, but the arena had been doing well for years.



No, it's initial projections to pay for itself fell short almost instantly. Fahey had to refinance the bonds (and we were only making interest only payments for a time), then we went back to the state to redo the funds received by the state. We were also promised that property taxes would not be used but that has become the reality unfortunately.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby bigredmed » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:13 am

HskrFanMike wrote:What are you going to do, if you are UNO?

Clearly, the financial assumptions for building the arena were completely wrong. But guess what, so were the numbers that Ralston and Council Bluffs used. (I suspect the numbers Sarpy County used for the ballpark were all wrong, but they've kept that to themselves.) Baxter was offered as the solution to UNO's financial issues, but instead it made things even worse.

But the money's spent. It's gone. It's wasted.

You can't undo it. There is no market for used arenas. Unless NU wants to declare bankruptcy, NU has to deal with the price of this for the next 25 years.

Should UNO have stayed downtown at the CenturyLink Center for hockey and in Ralston for hoops? The results made the case pretty clear: absolutely. But you can't change your mind now. (Well, you could, but you'd be paying for two arenas then.)

The good news is that our clusterf* of building redundant sports facilities is over now for the next 20 years or so.


Should UNO have stayed at the CLINK? No. They were always the B-team. Creighton fans ran amok in the reserved parking and instead of busting the dentists and lawyers, they just took the numbers off the spaces so UNO fans who paid just as much to park close, would not be able to complain. The hassle of the fans and the absence of a training facility for hockey were significant problems at the CLINK and UNO was powerless to do anything about it.

UNO has screwed up the Baxter's parking, concessions, and management and cost a lot of STHs like me. The idea of parking an arena right next to a hopping night spot and pricing your mass produced hotdog like food product at the same rate as the real food next door, just makes fans eat somewhere else. Starting all the games at 7, so that people who work on Fridays have a hard time getting there on time, and then forcing them to park in the toolies because they didn't buy a box seat pretty much is the exemplar of dumb management. They lost money for the same reason that they lost STHS. Treat their fans like |expletive|, and their fans and their fan's money go elsewhere.

This is on UNO and on Trev Alberts.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:30 am

The thing is, they gained a lot of new STH's the first year at Baxter, and a very high number of them renewed. I looked into buying two more (currently have 2) and there really weren't many available once the renewal period expired.

I do agree long term, the Clink was not the answer. It was way too big for UNO and had no atmosphere at all because of the attendance vs arena size.

I am hoping the food improves this year (though honestly I did not have any real problems with the offering last year, but there was room for improvement). I'd like to see more local vendors. Would be great to add runza and/or others.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:43 pm

bigredmed wrote:
HskrFanMike wrote:What are you going to do, if you are UNO?

Clearly, the financial assumptions for building the arena were completely wrong. But guess what, so were the numbers that Ralston and Council Bluffs used. (I suspect the numbers Sarpy County used for the ballpark were all wrong, but they've kept that to themselves.) Baxter was offered as the solution to UNO's financial issues, but instead it made things even worse.

But the money's spent. It's gone. It's wasted.

You can't undo it. There is no market for used arenas. Unless NU wants to declare bankruptcy, NU has to deal with the price of this for the next 25 years.

Should UNO have stayed downtown at the CenturyLink Center for hockey and in Ralston for hoops? The results made the case pretty clear: absolutely. But you can't change your mind now. (Well, you could, but you'd be paying for two arenas then.)

The good news is that our clusterf* of building redundant sports facilities is over now for the next 20 years or so.


Should UNO have stayed at the CLINK? No. They were always the B-team. Creighton fans ran amok in the reserved parking and instead of busting the dentists and lawyers, they just took the numbers off the spaces so UNO fans who paid just as much to park close, would not be able to complain. The hassle of the fans and the absence of a training facility for hockey were significant problems at the CLINK and UNO was powerless to do anything about it.

UNO has screwed up the Baxter's parking, concessions, and management and cost a lot of STHs like me. The idea of parking an arena right next to a hopping night spot and pricing your mass produced hotdog like food product at the same rate as the real food next door, just makes fans eat somewhere else. Starting all the games at 7, so that people who work on Fridays have a hard time getting there on time, and then forcing them to park in the toolies because they didn't buy a box seat pretty much is the exemplar of dumb management. They lost money for the same reason that they lost STHS. Treat their fans like |expletive|, and their fans and their fan's money go elsewhere.

This is on UNO and on Trev Alberts.


Totally agree with this. My wife and I were having this very discussion yesterday. Nothing is more annoying to me as a STH to see the prime parking spots empty 5 minutes before game time (for both hockey and basketball), reserved for club seat and suite holders who often don't show up for hockey and never show up for basketball. So, rather than park across the ice cold creek, we park at Ak Village...and then proceed to have a nice dinner before the game. That also has the double effect of making us uninterested in $7 hot dogs, $8 beers, and $9 burgers. We can get a much better quality of food product across the street at the village. So, the proximity to those restaurants and watering holes is proving to be a double edged sword for UNO.

I would also say that the overall quality of the concessions at Baxter is much worse than any of the local competitors. I would rank Werner, Levy ant the Clink, and even Ralston as having superior offerings than Baxter. I"m not motivated to eat anything on their menu.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:49 pm

I also agree that much of this is on UNO ant Trev. As Trev said in the article, he owns the financials. It falls on him when this facility underperforms. I can already hear some of the fanbase getting ready to step to Trev's defense as many think he can do no wrong and others are closely linked to his regime. Still, this is a glaring miscalculation and if his main task was to get the financials of UNO athletics in order when he was hired, I'd consider this a failure.

It also falls on the analysts, of course. They were wrong, as always. I wish I could be one of these analysts. They are worse than weathermen. They are wrong almost 100% of the time. I'd love to collect a six figure salary and get kickbacks from construction companies and contractors, just to say "sure, go ahead and build it. It'll be like printing money!" Then, they just anonymously disappear into the fog when these facilities wildly underperform. Sounds like a great gig.
Last edited by omaha79 on Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby bigredmed » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:51 pm

Last year, the prices and the quality kept us from even trying them. Can't make money if you can't sell stuff. If half the attendees are already fed and toasted, you are boned. If half of the people have frostbite from walking across the creek, they are not going to be buying a lot of high margin beer.

Good on you, Trev!

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:59 pm

It annoys me as well to keep getting One Fund mailers asking me to donate thousands of dollars beyond the cost of my tickets to get one of those prime parking spaces. It just seems like a bad message.

I've said it for years, UNO simply doesn't value their season ticket holders. There are no perks to being a season ticket holder outside of the seats themselves (which have typically increased in price). UNO has such wonderful opportunities to try to grow their other sports. They should be trying to tap into the hockey season ticket holders by offering them greatly reduced prices on soccer season tickets or maybe some baseball tickets if they ever start charging for them.

They should also just send out a few vouchers for free basketball tickets every now and again as a thank you. Or, coupons for money off in the (extremely overpriced) team store. Maybe a coupon for a free hot dog or discounts on concessions for season ticket holders only.

Instead, the only correspondence I ever get from UNO is a yearly request to renew my season tickets and quarterly requests to donate to the One Fund. The One Fund has all sorts of perks and freebies. They could take a cue from the Omaha Storm Chasers on how to engage a fanbase. They always made me feel like my purchase was valued.

I've had season tickets in hockey, basketball, and soccer for multiple years. It just feels like they could take advantage of that with some sort of loyalty system and try to market that to other people, "we see you're a hockey season ticket holder, but if you add basketball, you can also receive..."

But, that seems beyond their abilities at this point.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:08 pm

Has an arena EVER met first year projections that were used to sell building the thing in the first place? Every single time this is brought up, we have folks so stuck (and even worse, you're shocked) on these numbers (especially ones 10+ years old that were mitigated by refinancing and subsequent surpluses) that we forget the other benefits of these facilities. They are civic/campus investments that, like everything, must be paid for.

Christ, Lincoln's arena still isn't making money (thank god they included those extra taxes before building it?) but it, like the CLink, was a boon for the city (and university) in other ways than just what was isolated out on the books in the bottom line.
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omaha79
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:08 pm

That's all fine and good in a vacuum until you start thinking about long term effects such deficits can have on a university or athletic department. If UNO gets back to the point where they are increasing tuition to cover losses like the early to mid 00's or dropping sports like 2011, then I can't agree that this was a good idea. As long as NU is willing to cover the losses and maintain the status quo, you can argue that it's no big deal...but if they drop baseball and continue to pull from general funds to the point where it affects the academic side, that's an issue. Both of these things have happened at UNO in the last 10-15 years. So, there is a precedent for it.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:12 pm

I actually like the parking better at Baxter. Love the free garages across the street.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:14 pm

MadMartin8 wrote:Has an arena EVER met first year projections that were used to sell building the thing in the first place? Every single time this is brought up, we have folks so stuck (and even worse, you're shocked) on these numbers (especially ones 10+ years old that were mitigated by refinancing and subsequent surpluses) that we forget the other benefits of these facilities. They are civic/campus investments that, like everything, must be paid for.

Christ, Lincoln's arena still isn't making money (thank god they included those extra taxes before building it?) but it, like the CLink, was a boon for the city (and university) in other ways than just what was isolated out on the books in the bottom line.



I think this one is a little different. UNO was not just trying to break even, they were counting on a profit to help fund the department. I'm not surprised but it was a huge error on UNO's planning/budgeting.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:36 pm

omaha79 wrote:That's all fine and good in a vacuum until you start thinking about long term effects such deficits can have on a university or athletic department. If UNO gets back to the point where they are increasing tuition to cover losses like the early to mid 00's or dropping sports like 2011, then I can't agree that this was a good idea. As long as NU is willing to cover the losses and maintain the status quo, you can argue that it's no big deal...but if they drop baseball and continue to pull from general funds to the point where it affects the academic side, that's an issue. Both of these things have happened at UNO in the last 10-15 years. So, there is a precedent for it.



IF it gets to that point (I will bet that the University system will find the money to cover for a while yet), then yes it most certainly will be a problem, won't deny that. I just don't think we're at the panic button stage yet...there's more backing this than say, Ralston.

That said, and you cannot deny, in terms of prestige and the boom it has raised for UNO Athletics and the University itself outside of the red ink has certainly been a plus, no Hoover or Dyson required. It would not surprise me to see more concerts, and other uses, to help stabilize things much as other arenas have done to generate profit after initial losses. It's a nice sized arena, not too small and not too big, plus it has quite the population center around it (which will probably continue to grow).
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:58 pm

MadMartin8 wrote:
omaha79 wrote:That's all fine and good in a vacuum until you start thinking about long term effects such deficits can have on a university or athletic department. If UNO gets back to the point where they are increasing tuition to cover losses like the early to mid 00's or dropping sports like 2011, then I can't agree that this was a good idea. As long as NU is willing to cover the losses and maintain the status quo, you can argue that it's no big deal...but if they drop baseball and continue to pull from general funds to the point where it affects the academic side, that's an issue. Both of these things have happened at UNO in the last 10-15 years. So, there is a precedent for it.



IF it gets to that point (I will bet that the University system will find the money to cover for a while yet), then yes it most certainly will be a problem, won't deny that. I just don't think we're at the panic button stage yet...there's more backing this than say, Ralston.

That said, and you cannot deny, in terms of prestige and the boom it has raised for UNO Athletics and the University itself outside of the red ink has certainly been a plus, no Hoover or Dyson required. It would not surprise me to see more concerts, and other uses, to help stabilize things much as other arenas have done to generate profit after initial losses. It's a nice sized arena, not too small and not too big, plus it has quite the population center around it (which will probably continue to grow).


No doubt. I love Baxter Arena and the positive impact it's had on the university from a prestige standpoint. Baxter Arena ensures my attendance at probably about twice as many UNO sporting events as I've attended in the past.

I just don't want that to come at the expense of the athletic department as a whole. I feel like the current financial situation may have set the baseball stadium back 10 years now. It may be part of the reason Bob Herold is no longer with the university. That's speculation on my part though.

We will have to see. Even as a UNO homer, I can't spin the first season financials as a positive.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:02 pm

omaha79 wrote:
MadMartin8 wrote:
omaha79 wrote:That's all fine and good in a vacuum until you start thinking about long term effects such deficits can have on a university or athletic department. If UNO gets back to the point where they are increasing tuition to cover losses like the early to mid 00's or dropping sports like 2011, then I can't agree that this was a good idea. As long as NU is willing to cover the losses and maintain the status quo, you can argue that it's no big deal...but if they drop baseball and continue to pull from general funds to the point where it affects the academic side, that's an issue. Both of these things have happened at UNO in the last 10-15 years. So, there is a precedent for it.



IF it gets to that point (I will bet that the University system will find the money to cover for a while yet), then yes it most certainly will be a problem, won't deny that. I just don't think we're at the panic button stage yet...there's more backing this than say, Ralston.

That said, and you cannot deny, in terms of prestige and the boom it has raised for UNO Athletics and the University itself outside of the red ink has certainly been a plus, no Hoover or Dyson required. It would not surprise me to see more concerts, and other uses, to help stabilize things much as other arenas have done to generate profit after initial losses. It's a nice sized arena, not too small and not too big, plus it has quite the population center around it (which will probably continue to grow).


No doubt. I love Baxter Arena and the positive impact it's had on the university from a prestige standpoint. Baxter Arena ensures my attendance at probably about twice as many UNO sporting events as I've attended in the past.

I just don't want that to come at the expense of the athletic department as a whole. I feel like the current financial situation may have set the baseball stadium back 10 years now. It may be part of the reason Bob Herold is no longer with the university. That's speculation on my part though.

We will have to see. Even as a UNO homer, I can't spin the first season financials as a positive.


The financial report certainly isn't a positive, but it's not yet a huge issue, I wouldn't sweat just yet. Once they get operations fine tuned and start really selling the other uses of the arena outside of sports (who wouldn't want a captive audience of college age students plus aksarben living young professionals to tap into?), I have faith it will turn around in year 3 and 4. Will it ever be a huge money maker? Eh, probably not, but it should hold its own.

If it doesn't? Well, we'll see how creative Trev is... If he doesn't bolt.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:22 pm

MadMartin8 wrote:
omaha79 wrote:
MadMartin8 wrote:
omaha79 wrote:That's all fine and good in a vacuum until you start thinking about long term effects such deficits can have on a university or athletic department. If UNO gets back to the point where they are increasing tuition to cover losses like the early to mid 00's or dropping sports like 2011, then I can't agree that this was a good idea. As long as NU is willing to cover the losses and maintain the status quo, you can argue that it's no big deal...but if they drop baseball and continue to pull from general funds to the point where it affects the academic side, that's an issue. Both of these things have happened at UNO in the last 10-15 years. So, there is a precedent for it.



IF it gets to that point (I will bet that the University system will find the money to cover for a while yet), then yes it most certainly will be a problem, won't deny that. I just don't think we're at the panic button stage yet...there's more backing this than say, Ralston.

That said, and you cannot deny, in terms of prestige and the boom it has raised for UNO Athletics and the University itself outside of the red ink has certainly been a plus, no Hoover or Dyson required. It would not surprise me to see more concerts, and other uses, to help stabilize things much as other arenas have done to generate profit after initial losses. It's a nice sized arena, not too small and not too big, plus it has quite the population center around it (which will probably continue to grow).


No doubt. I love Baxter Arena and the positive impact it's had on the university from a prestige standpoint. Baxter Arena ensures my attendance at probably about twice as many UNO sporting events as I've attended in the past.

I just don't want that to come at the expense of the athletic department as a whole. I feel like the current financial situation may have set the baseball stadium back 10 years now. It may be part of the reason Bob Herold is no longer with the university. That's speculation on my part though.

We will have to see. Even as a UNO homer, I can't spin the first season financials as a positive.


The financial report certainly isn't a positive, but it's not yet a huge issue, I wouldn't sweat just yet. Once they get operations fine tuned and start really selling the other uses of the arena outside of sports (who wouldn't want a captive audience of college age students plus aksarben living young professionals to tap into?), I have faith it will turn around in year 3 and 4. Will it ever be a huge money maker? Eh, probably not, but it should hold its own.

If it doesn't? Well, we'll see how creative Trev is... If he doesn't bolt.


As Greg S mentioned on another message board, the negative financials is likely directly responsible for UNO announcing they will not be offering full cost of attendance scholarships (after previously announcing they would). Considering other schools such as North Dakota have announced that they will be offering these benefits, I would argue that this could potentially put UNO at a competitive disadvantage within their own league. If they lose recruits over this, it could be perceived as a huge issue right now. Thinking two steps forward, if a coach like Dean Blais feels like he's having difficulty recruiting against other schools offering these benefits, maybe he speeds up his retirement plans.

I'm just not sure I'd suggest this isn't a huge issue or something not to sweat at this point. There are variables that aren't accounted for right now. We need to see how this plays out over the next 12 months or so.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby NovakOmaha » Tue Sep 06, 2016 5:37 pm

I'm too old and lazy to look this up, so I'll ask.

What has the metro spent on ball parks and arenas? I'm counting CLink, Bluffs, Ralston, UNO, TDAPark, Werner Park. Am I leaving anything out? That's a mountain of spending.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:07 pm

omaha79 wrote:There are variables that aren't accounted for right now. We need to see how this plays out over the next 12 months or so.


Deep breaths, it will be fine. If the UNO Athletic Department can't stand one or two years of operating losses of a new arena, you're in bigger trouble than just having the Arena... Good ole Husker Trevvy and his cohorts might want to hope UNL still loves him.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby jessep28 » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:58 pm

Engaging the thousands of UNO alumni in some capacity would be a decent show of effort as well. Nothing makes me feel more like a Maverick than an occasional magazine, and solicitations for college of business or alumni association donations.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby PobodysNerfect » Wed Sep 07, 2016 10:11 am

It seems one of the main problems stems from projections on arena profits, that being said, who is making these projections? Baxter is not an isolated incident in the area let alone the country, for cities and teams building arenas and falling way under projected revenue. There is an epidemic of this in our country right now and at times it seriously feels like we have gotten out of control. How can these companies who are supposedly supposed to be good at finances and building arenas be constantly so far off on projected income? (See: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Mid-America Center, Ralston Arena, Barclay's Center, Jobing.com Arena, etc)

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:24 pm

PobodysNerfect wrote:It seems one of the main problems stems from projections on arena profits, that being said, who is making these projections? Baxter is not an isolated incident in the area let alone the country, for cities and teams building arenas and falling way under projected revenue. There is an epidemic of this in our country right now and at times it seriously feels like we have gotten out of control. How can these companies who are supposedly supposed to be good at finances and building arenas be constantly so far off on projected income? (See: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Mid-America Center, Ralston Arena, Barclay's Center, Jobing.com Arena, etc)


You forgot Centurylink Center Omaha in your list. That one was also way off on projections. There is not a single facility built in this state over the last 20 years that's truly lived up to revenue projections.

Honestly, I'm convinced part of it is rampant corruption. "independent" consultants who are often hired simply to come to whatever preconceived decision the municipalities, teams, and construction companies involved want to show. It's simply a layer of insulation. These projects are going to be built one way or another, but crooked politicians (probably taking kick backs) and business people set to profit from the building of a new arena from ancillary business or housing development in the area use these "projections" as a way to justify what they were going to do no matter what and ensure it doesn't have to come before the voters. When the revenues come in under projections, they can blame the conultants and the feasibility studies.

Over promising and under delivering is the industry standard here. Their success rate is worse than the weather man. At least he's right every once in a while.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:20 pm

Yeah I think everyone always leaves off CenturyLink Center because of MECA broadcasting the profits they makre from it. They forget MECA is not paying back the bonds, the city of Omaha as, and the the projections missed by a long shot. Omaha now pays for CLC Omaha from property taxes, something we were promised would never happen.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 2:30 pm

Greg S wrote:Yeah I think everyone always leaves off CenturyLink Center because of MECA broadcasting the profits they makre from it. They forget MECA is not paying back the bonds, the city of Omaha as, and the the projections missed by a long shot. Omaha now pays for CLC Omaha from property taxes, something we were promised would never happen.

Greg



Or maybe he left it off because it had been mentioned ad-nauseum in the thread already. We know your crusade against the CLC, but anyone who understands these large civic projects understood that this would A) Require taxes of some form (much like your Pinnacle Bank Arena) and B) Miss projections wildly, like all large civic projects do (because of the reasons omaha79 already mentioned), from the moment it was announced. Of all the lies the government tells me each day, I think I'll gladly take this one without complaining too much, since it does bring back things like... oh, say, the Swim Trials that pump countless millions in the area.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:09 pm

I don't have a crusade against the CLC. I really like the place. I just think that when most people talk about arena's missing projections they don't realize it should be included, mainly because of MECA. Heck I would have been fine if they said they needed property taxes to build it.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby GRANDPASMUCKER » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:45 pm

omaha79 wrote:
PobodysNerfect wrote:It seems one of the main problems stems from projections on arena profits, that being said, who is making these projections? Baxter is not an isolated incident in the area let alone the country, for cities and teams building arenas and falling way under projected revenue. There is an epidemic of this in our country right now and at times it seriously feels like we have gotten out of control. How can these companies who are supposedly supposed to be good at finances and building arenas be constantly so far off on projected income? (See: Pinnacle Bank Arena, Mid-America Center, Ralston Arena, Barclay's Center, Jobing.com Arena, etc)


You forgot Centurylink Center Omaha in your list. That one was also way off on projections. There is not a single facility built in this state over the last 20 years that's truly lived up to revenue projections.

Honestly, I'm convinced part of it is rampant corruption. "independent" consultants who are often hired simply to come to whatever preconceived decision the municipalities, teams, and construction companies involved want to show. It's simply a layer of insulation. These projects are going to be built one way or another, but crooked politicians (probably taking kick backs) and business people set to profit from the building of a new arena from ancillary business or housing development in the area use these "projections" as a way to justify what they were going to do no matter what and ensure it doesn't have to come before the voters. When the revenues come in under projections, they can blame the conultants and the feasibility studies.

Over promising and under delivering is the industry standard here. Their success rate is worse than the weather man. At least he's right every once in a while.



It does me good to see at least one person gets it beside myself. You are 100% right and then some. The whole thing is a shim sham scam from top to bottom designed to make a few rich at the expense of others. This arena con was not invented in Omaha. I have watched this scam run in a number of cities I have spent considerable time in. It s sick and its disgusting but welcome to America. Heres a prediction a little kid could even see coming. Now that they got the competition er I mean the Civic Auditorium tore down I bet it won't be too many years at all before they come up with some magic reason why one of the other arenas needs to be tore down. :shock:

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 3:47 pm

MadMartin8:

Agreed. I am part of the target audience for these arenas and ballparks. I'd dare say I'm a power user, if anything. Ha. So, you won't really hear me complaining about them being built as I see a direct benefit to the types of events and entertainment they provide me. I'm more than happy with my tax dollars funding something that I use so frequently. I attend multiple events each year at nearly every one of these facilities and in the case of places like Werner Park and Baxter Arena, it's into the double digits. So, no complaining about tax burderns on this from me.

I'm just dismayed about the shady way these things are ramrodded through the general public and the way the tax burden is often back doored on people that have no say in the process and may never use these facilities. The whole process is slimy. The results are predictable and seem to happen without fail. Yet, the general public can predict the shortfalls in a way that elected politicians, business leaders, and construction consultants can't? Give me a break. If they were up front with it, there would be less hand wringing from people like me on the back end...but if they were up front with it, some of these projects would never get past the public outcry. So, it is what it is.

The real problem is the general public has a short memory and fails to punish the lies and failures when it comes time to vote for city council members, mayors, and Board of Regent members.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:03 pm

omaha79 wrote:MadMartin8:

Agreed. I am part of the target audience for these arenas and ballparks. I'd dare say I'm a power user, if anything. Ha. So, you won't really hear me complaining about them being built as I see a direct benefit to the types of events and entertainment they provide me. I'm more than happy with my tax dollars funding something that I use so frequently. I attend multiple events each year at nearly every one of these facilities and in the case of places like Werner Park and Baxter Arena, it's into the double digits. So, no complaining about tax burderns on this from me.

I'm just dismayed about the shady way these things are ramrodded through the general public and the way the tax burden is often back doored on people that have no say in the process and may never use these facilities. The whole process is slimy. The results are predictable and seem to happen without fail. Yet, the general public can predict the shortfalls in a way that elected politicians, business leaders, and construction consultants can't? Give me a break. If they were up front with it, there would be less hand wringing from people like me on the back end...but if they were up front with it, some of these projects would never get past the public outcry. So, it is what it is.

The real problem is the general public has a short memory and fails to punish the lies and failures when it comes time to vote for city council members, mayors, and Board of Regent members.



Honestly, at this point my view of government has become so cynical that I'm just glad that there are actual benefits to this particular brand of B.S they're selling us. I've just learned that you can always expect the same things over and over again that I really just become blind to the rhetoric they spew, and just know that A) My taxes will increase one way or another, but B) I might get a decent civic project out of it. I'm just not one to be surprised or dismayed when public projects cost the public, it just happens. There are plenty of other things the government (even locally) tries to cram into us that are worth fighting over, but, I do understand your feelings.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 4:30 pm

and now Dean Blais is hinting at retirement and publicly airing concerns that the UNO administration may not be "all in" on hockey and athletics going forward. Hmmmm.

These statements, combined with the seemingly long term shelving of a UNO baseball field and no full cost of attendance scholarships for hockey are a huge red flag for the future of the athletic program at UNO.

It's tough to attract top players and coaches if it's perceived that UNO athletics is not on solid ground...again. So, I would disagree with those that say that the huge losses the arena ran are not a big deal.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby GRANDPASMUCKER » Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:36 pm

Every time I drive down center and look over and see that new Baxter arena I just shake me head in disgust. We never should of built that arena downtown. We should of built a huge arena that seated 20,000 to 25000 people right where the Baxter is now. Whats best for the city and the taxpayers has never been the concern of any of the politicians running these cities and organizations. All they care about is how much money they can make for themselves and their associates. In a perfect world we would have a big huge stadium at Aksarben and that ripoff ballpark downtown would never of been built and shoved down our throats and Rosenblatt would still be used. Ralston and the Baxter and even Warner Park would not exist or be needed.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby choke » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:24 pm

Even South Dakota has a dome for their college kids to play sports in. It's too bad if the arena is losing money but how do expect to attract kids from Omaha and elsewhere to come to UNO if the college isn't serious about sports. Who would want to play baseball at Omaha when your field is at Boys Town? You do what you gotta do.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Coyote » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:50 pm

omaha79 wrote:and now Dean Blais is hinting at retirement and publicly airing concerns that the UNO administration may not be "all in" on hockey and athletics going forward. Hmmmm.


No, UNO Chancellor John Christensen who has been a big supporter of UNO athletics is retiring. The next Chancellor may not be "all in", so why wait and see... Can UNO get Hastings to return if the new Chancellor turns out to be a pincher?
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Brad » Fri Oct 14, 2016 12:11 am

I like Mike Hastings, he's a great guy and a great hockey coach. However he's gone and not coming back.

UNO already hired the next Head Coach in Mike Gabinet. Young guy, great record, UNO alumni, and has a lot going for him. I think Blais will stick around a couple more years and then when he decides to retire, it will be a smooth transition over to Gabinet.

After all the bad pub and everything that went down with the previous Chancellor before Christensen, I think the NU System will make a wise choice for the next Chancellor. Besides the Chancellor reports the the University President, who reports the the regents, I don't think someone could just roll in and destroy the athletic program over night...
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby MadMartin8 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:51 am

I don't think I've ever seen such fatalism from an Alumni base. Wait and see before you burn the place to the ground for the insurance money, jesus.
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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby Greg S » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:10 am

MadMartin8 wrote:I don't think I've ever seen such fatalism from an Alumni base. Wait and see before you burn the place to the ground for the insurance money, jesus.



I think it has to do with years and years of mismanagement. UNO had a bad run of AD's between Leahy and Alberts and Nancy Belck as Chancellor was a fiasco too. They've made some strides. I do think this latest issue with finances has some thinking it will never get completely fixed.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby iamjacobm » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:14 am

College athletics finances are going to be a real issue this next decade. A tiny fraction of athletic departments actually support themselves and I am sure a number of institutions will be making tough decisions with every shrinking education budgets. It is really finding that happy medium where the value of athletics to the campus and university is worth the cost. I would argue that hockey has been a very important part of UNO's rise locally. It helps to keep alums involved with the school.

Weather the value of running a loss is worth the value of some student/alumni pride is certainly up for discussion though. However with the sunk costs of the arena I am sure they will be around a while. Programs like baseball and softball will probably take the hit for hockey to stay relevant.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:20 am

It is not fatalism, it is reality. Not offering full cost of attendance scholarships is a big deal. A head coach questioning university supportnand hinting at retirement is a red flag. The baseball team likely stuck at a high school field indefinitely after being promised a new facility is a bad situation. A hockey coach managing a multi million dollar arena is scary.

Honestly, I would suggest those that arent taking this seriously right now dont understandnthe history of UNO athletics and the gravity of the current situation.

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Re: UNO's Baxter Arena running huge losses...

Postby omaha79 » Fri Oct 14, 2016 11:13 am

And, keep in mind, no one is suggesting UNO athletics will cease to exist. Baxter Arena is essentially a golden anchor which will ensure the athletic department exists, in one form or another, for the the foreseeable future. Silly ideas like sending the other sports down to DII aren't feasible either as Baxter Arena will require both hockey and basketball to pull their weight in the future. I see the danger of this situation as more of a long term downward trajectory. Of course, this is barring the intervention of a donor of substance making a huge donation to help pay off Baxter Arena or build a baseball field. This would be a more realistic "sum of all fears"...

1. UNO hires a chancellor who talks about a commitment to athletics, but also mentions a need to get the budget in order.

2. Blais is likely gone in a couple of years either way. Another meltdown like last season, or even a mediocre 2016-2017 campaign hovering around .500 and I would assume he's gone after this year. Because of the budget, UNO hires from within at a much lower salary.

3. Lack of a coach with name recognition along with no full cost of attendance scholarships puts UNO at a recruiting disadvantage against the upper echelon of the NCHC schools. The on ice product suffers, regressing to the typical .500 seasons seen during the later Kemp era, or worse.

4. Ticket sales suffer due to the on ice product and the newness of the arena having worn off. The season ticket base regresses to the roughly 4k average seen during the later Century Link Center years. The average total attendance regresses to roughly 6,500 or 80% capacity in a building that needs to be sold out every night. The deficits continue.

5. Baxter Arena, Caniglia Field, and Boys Town need maintenance. The money isn't there, but general fund money is ultimately used to cover maintenance and more department deficits. The OWH does an expose again shedding light on how much money the University of Nebraska system is continuously pouring into UNO athletics. Husker fans and academics cry foul and it's another black eye for the school.

6. longtime coaches in other sports such as soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc leave or are forced out and replaced with cheaper first time coaches to save money. The product suffers in other sports as well.

7. With the financials still not in check and a new facility nowhere close to reality, UNO drops baseball. I long thought this was unlikely considering UNO is at the minimum sports to be D-I, but someone pointed out that men's track and/or cross country are also Summit League sports and much cheaper to run as you need fewer coaches between the mens/womens teams, fewer scholarships, and facility demands are lessened. This would only further splinter the fanbase as anyone with ties to baseball would walk away forever.

8. Trev Alberts is fired and replaced for half the price. All of the focus on growing the brand is replaced by reigning in the budget and stopping the hemorrhaging. UNO athletics continues to limp along, a shell of the program with such high expectations a few years prior and still not making money.

This is certainly a worst case scenario vision, but anyone that lived through the 2006-2011 era of UNO athletics can understand that this is probably a more likely scenario than Baxter Arena and UNO athletics suddenly making money...because reasons. I think the best hope right now is a hail mary proposition that UNO suddenly finds a booster to cut a big check...but, I'm afraid the big money is somewhat tapped out at this point.

It's that or the University of Nebraska system bites the bullet and just decides that Maverick athletics is going to be a multi million dollar loss leader every season. There has to be a limit to that as well though.


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