CenturyLink Center Omaha

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Coordinates: 41°15′45″N 95°55′50″W / 41.26250°N 95.93056°W / 41.26250; -95.93056

CenturyLink Center Omaha
CenturyLink Center logo.png
CenturyLink Center Omaha.jpg
West façade c. 2012
Former names Omaha Arena and Convention Center (planning/construction)
Qwest Center Omaha (2003–11)
Alternative names CenturyLink Center Omaha Convention Center and Arena
General information
Location Downtown Omaha
Address 455 North 10th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102-1151
Named for CenturyLink
Groundbreaking March 1, 2001 (2001-03-01)
Opened September 20, 2003 (2003-09-20)
Inaugurated September 12, 2003 (2003-09-12)
Cost $291 million
($379 million in 2016 dollars[1])
Owner City of Omaha
Landlord Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority
Technical details
Size 1,118,300 square feet (103,890 m2)
Design and construction
Architecture firm DLR Group
Structural engineer Thornton-Tomasetti Group
Services engineer M–E Engineers, Inc.
Main contractor Kiewit Construction Co.
Other information
Seating capacity 18,320 (basketball)
17,100 (hockey)
18,975 (Concert Center-stage)
2,693 (Peter Kiewit Grand Ballroom)
Parking 4,500 spaces

The CenturyLink Center Omaha is an arena and convention center in the North Downtown neighborhood in Omaha, Nebraska operated by the Metropolitan Entertainment & Convention Authority (MECA). The 1,100,000-square-foot (100,000 m2) facility has an 18,975-seat arena, a 194,000-square-foot (18,000 m2) exhibition hall and 62,000 sq ft (5,800 m2) of meeting space.

The complex opened in 2003 as Qwest Center Omaha. It adopted its current name on July 15, 2011, as part of a $22 billion buyout of Qwest by CenturyLink (formerly CenturyTel).[2] All signage, inside and outside, changed to conform to the new arena name and exterior accent lighting changed from blue to green. Work completed on December 20, 2011. The contract expires in 2018 and MECA is preparing to negotiate a new contract.[3]

The arena hosts basketball games, hockey games, professional wrestling events and concerts and the annual shareholders' meeting of Omaha-based conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway, usually held on the first Saturday of May.

The arena's primary tenant is the Creighton University men's basketball team. Through the 2014–15 NCAA ice hockey season, the Omaha Mavericks men's team, representing the University of Nebraska Omaha, was also a primary tenant, but the Mavericks moved to the new Baxter Arena for the 2015–16 season.[4][5]


In 2000, Omaha voters approved a $216 million bond issue to build a new convention center and arena; the remainder of the $291 million project was provided by private organizations and individuals. The facility design was led by architectural firm DLR Group. Naming rights to the arena were purchased by Qwest.

Qwest Center Omaha opened in September 2003 with an initial seating capacity of 17,000 for concerts, 15,500 for basketball, and 14,700 for hockey. In 2006, a $5.7-million expansion of the arena increased capacity by approximately 1,500 seats.

The Qwest Center displaced the 1954 Omaha Civic Auditorium as the city's premier indoor arena. The venerable Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum closed in 2002 and was demolished in 2005.

Notable events[edit]

The arena hosted games in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament three times: in 2008, 2012, and 2015, as well as the 2010 NCAA Men's Division I Wrestling Championships. It was also home to the WWE Judgment Day 2008 pay-per-view, as well as other events from WWE.

Summer Olympics Swimming Trials[edit]

The center hosted the nationally televised USA Swimming Summer Olympics trials in 2008, 2012 and 2016. The center does not have permanent swimming facilities and a team of 200 workers with oversight by Myrtha Pools constructed them in two weeks.[6] (which specializes in the construction and dismantling of large scale temporary pools).[7] The Omaha Fire Department pumped in two million gallons of water from hydrants around the center.[8][9]

The 2008 event averaged more than 12,000 spectators each night.[10]

A storm damaged a portion of the roof known as The Hat on June 27, 2008. There was no structural damage, but the damage caused water to pour into parts of the Qwest Center, flowed down two sets of arena steps and onto the deck of the competition pool for the USA Swimming Summer Olympic Trials. The schedule for the trials went on as planned.[11]

The pools were dismantled after the event and moved to other cities for permanent installation with the 2008 pool going to the Poseidon Swimming facility in Richmond, Virginia,[12] the 2012 pool going to Charles River Aquatics in Boston, Massachusetts[13] and the 2016 pool going to the Hulbert Aquatic Facility in West Fargo, North Dakota (West Fargo bought the pool via a local group of swim enthusiasts called UP Aquatics for $900,000).[14]


In 2001, construction began on the new convention center and arena, known as the "Omaha Arena and Convention Center". Architectural firm DLR Group spearheaded the design, while The Thornton-Tomasetti Group served as structural engineer. M–E Engineers, Inc. was the services engineer and a local company, Kiewit Corporation, led general construction. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on March 1, 2001.[15] The venue was completed in August 2003, with an official opening on September 24, 2003.

In 2006, the MCEA funded a project to expanded the arena and add an additional 1,472 seats to the upper bowl.[16] The project also included adding restroom facilities and concession stands, as well as updating aesthetics, mechanical systems, and emergency exits. The cost of the project was $6 million. Construction began in May and was completed September 8, 2006.

In 2009, the center saw another renovation with work enveloping the entire building. The $6 million project included new carpet, wallpaper, reupholstered arena seating, and a new scoreboard.[17]


Creighton Bluejays NCAA 2003–present
River City Rodeo and Stock Show KASB 2003–present
UNO Mavericks NCHC 2003–2015
Nebraska State Wrestling Tournament NSAA 2007–present
United States Olympic Trials USA-S 2008–present
NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament NCAA 2008, 2012, 2016
NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship 2008
NCAA Men's Division I Wrestling Championships 2010
CenturyLink Omaha Convention Center

The convention center has placed Omaha on the convention map since opening in 2003. The center features three exhibit halls, four ballrooms and over 15 meeting rooms.

  • Exhibit Hall: The main exhibition room which can be divided into three separate rooms (Halls A-C) depending on configuration. The combined rooms can house over 1,000 or a conference seating more than 16,000 guests.
  • Peter Kiewit Grand Ballroom: Named after the founder of the Kiewit Corporation, is the biggest ballroom in the facility. Based on configuration, it can be divided into 3 small ballrooms (Ballroom A-C) or 2 large rooms (North and South). The room is primarily used for graduation ceremonies, charity galas and business conferences.
  • Junior Ballroom: This intimate space was designed for private events such as weddings, receptions, banquets and cocktail parties up to 1,000 guests.
CenturyLink Center Arena

The arena is the busiest venue of the complex. Built in 2001, the arena was meant to replace the aging Omaha Civic Auditorium and demolished Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum. It is the largest arena in the state, seating over 18,000. It contains 32 luxury suites and over a thousand club seats. The arena hosts shows of all genres, including: concerts, family shows, sports, rodeos and circuses. The arena opened September 12, 2003, with a private concert by Grand Funk Railroad. The first official event was the "River City Roundup Fair and Festival", held at both facilities.[18]

Hilton Omaha

This hotel features 600 guest rooms, 15 meeting rooms, and two ballrooms, an on-site restaurant, and skywalk connection to the convention center. The $71 million property opened April 2004 and has achieved the AAA four-diamond rating for ten years.[19]


  • Qwest Center Omaha (September 20, 2003–July 14, 2011)[20]
  • CenturyLink Center Omaha (July 15, 2011–present)[21]

Records and milestones[edit]

Top 10 Largest Home Crowds at CenturyLink Center Omaha, Creighton History

Rank Attendance Opponent Result Date
1 18,868[22] Providence W 88–73 March 8, 2014
2 18,859[23] Georgetown W 76–63 January 25, 2014
3 18,831[24] Villanova L 70-80 December 31, 2016
4 18,797[25] Villanova W 101–80 February 16, 2014
5 18,742[26] Seton Hall W 72–71 February 23, 2014
6 18,735[27] Wichita State L 68–89 February 11, 2012
7 18,613[28] Wichita State W 91–79 March 2, 2013
8 18,525[29] Marquette W 67–49 December 31, 2013
9 18,494[30] Illinois State L 72–75 February 9, 2013
10 18,458[31] Evansville W 87–70 December 29, 2012

On the evening of March 8, 2014, the largest crowd to attend a Creighton University basketball game occurred when 18,868 fans witnessed the Creighton men's team defeat Providence on Doug McDermott's career-high senior night performance of 45 points.[22]

On January 13, 2012, the largest crowd to ever watch a hockey game in Nebraska occurred when 16,138 fans attended the game between the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Minnesota-Duluth.[32]

The CenturyLink Center holds several NCAA attendance records, particularly in college volleyball. Centurylink Center owns the top three NCAA tournament attendance records. The highest attendance to ever watch a volleyball match in the United States occurred on December 19, 2015 when 17,561 fans watched the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship game of Texas vs Nebraska. The 2nd highest attendance occurred on December 17, 2015 when 17,551 witnessed the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball semifinal game between Kansas and Nebraska. The 3rd highest attendance in NCAA tournament history occurred when 17,340 fans watched the 2008 NCAA National Semifinal match between Penn State and Nebraska.[33]


White Out vs Wichita State
White Out
White Out vs Southern Illinois
US Olympic Swimming Trials in June 2008
2013 Scoreboard & Logo
View looking southeast
West façade and main entrance
South façade prior to 2011

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  2. ^ Sabin, Jeff (March 24, 2011). "Name Change Coming For Qwest Center Omaha". WOWT News. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  3. ^ Moring, Roseann (July 29, 2015). "MECA prepares for new CenturyLink Center naming rights contract". Omaha World-Herald. 
  4. ^ "UNO Community Arena". University of Nebraska Omaha. Archived from the original on February 19, 2015. Retrieved February 17, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Mavericks, Baxter Share Spotlight in 4-2 Win" (Press release). Omaha Athletics. October 23, 2015. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  6. ^ Lutz, Rachel (May 26, 2016). "Construction begins on U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials pool venue". NBC Sports. 
  7. ^ "Temporary swimming pools construction". Myrtha Pools. 
  8. ^ Zaccardi, Nick (June 7, 2016). "Fire truck begins filling U.S. Olympic Trials pool". NBC Sports. Retrieved March 14, 2017. 
  9. ^ Ortegon, Karl (June 1, 2016). "U.S. Olympic Trials Pool in Omaha Begins Construction 3 Weeks Out". Swim Swam. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Olympic Trials Will Return to Omaha in 2012". USA Swimming. June 25, 2009. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  11. ^ Harris, Beth (June 27, 2008). "Severe Storm in Omaha Damages Swimming Arena". USA Today. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 
  12. ^ Reuer, Wendy (December 15, 2015). "Pool naming rights given to longtime swim family". West Fargo Pioneer. 
  13. ^ "2012 Trials Pool Finds Permanent Home at USA Swimming Club" (Press release). USA Swimming. September 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ Reuer, Wendy (January 6, 2016). "Local swim group purchases Olympic Trials competition pool for West Fargo". The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. 
  15. ^ "Arena Plans Take Next Step". KETV News. March 1, 2001. Archived from the original on March 3, 2001. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  16. ^ "Qwest Center To Expand". WOWT News. June 9, 2005. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  17. ^ Tysver, Robynn (November 9, 2009). "Qwest ready for face-lift". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved January 1, 2016. [dead link]
  18. ^ "Douglas County Fair,River City Roundup merge". High Plains Journal. Dodge City. January 1, 2002. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  19. ^ Gonzalez, Cindy (August 3, 2013). "For 10th straight year, Hilton Omaha gets AAA's four-diamond rating". Omaha World=Herald. Retrieved March 14, 2017. 
  20. ^ "Qwest buys naming rights for Omaha center". Denver Business Journal. August 13, 2003. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  21. ^ Robb, Jeffery (July 15, 2011). "Qwest Center gets new name". Omaha World-Herald. Archived from the original on January 30, 2013. Retrieved January 1, 2016. 
  22. ^ a b Pivovar, Steven (March 8, 2014). "Doug McDermott Passes 3,000 to the Delight of the Home Crowd". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  23. ^ Pivovar, Steven (January 25, 2014). "Team Effort Lifts Bluejays in Annual Pink-Out Game". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  24. ^ Sherman, Mitch (December 31, 2016). "Cold-blooded Villanova shows Creighton it won't be rattled". ESPN. Retrieved January 3, 2017. 
  25. ^ Pivovar, Steven (February 16, 2014). "Notes: Bluejays Give a Good Encore". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  26. ^ Pivovar, Steven (February 23, 2014). "Misses at the Line Nearly Cost Jays Against Seton Hall". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  27. ^ Suellentrop, Paul (February 11, 2012). "WSU Blasts Creighton, Take Control of MVC Race". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved February 12, 2012. 
  28. ^ Pivovar, Steven (March 2, 2013). "Creighton Tops WSU to Take Missouri Valley Title". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  29. ^ Pivovar, Steven (January 1, 2014). "Bluejays Show They Can Play a Little Defense, Too". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  30. ^ "Men's Basketball Falls to Illinois State Before 18,494". Creighton University Department of Athletics. February 9, 2013. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  31. ^ Olson, Eric (December 29, 2012). "McDermott's 29 Keys No. 16 Creighton in 87-70 Win". KETV News. Omaha. Associated Press. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  32. ^ Semisch, Matthew (January 13, 2012). "Brown’s Hat Trick Propels Minnesota-Duluth Over Nebraska-Omaha". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved March 20, 2015. 
  33. ^ "2008 NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship Match Notes". Pennsylvania State University Department of Athletics. December 20, 2008. Retrieved January 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Omaha Civic Auditorium
Home of
Omaha Mavericks Men's Hockey

2003 – 2015
Succeeded by
Baxter Arena