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Okay, maybe not quite that fast. But the end of 2010 brings some news on the progress the West Haymarket Arena project. Arguably, the passage of the 300m bond is the biggest story in Lincoln in 2010 (beyond any Husker-Big Ten related news, of course.) What 2011 brings we don't know beyond some more dirt being moved, perhaps some foundation being laid and mysterious nuclear waste being discovered on the old Burlington Northern land (at least that's what the Aree-No's have told us.)
Wednesday, the city launched it's new arena development website, haymarketnow.com, with this being the official outlet for news on construction, contracts and design. My first observation was of the Haymarket Now logo which looks conspicuously like the logo of the old Hartford Whalers of the NHL. It's clear that Mayor Beutler has designs for the arena's newest co-tenant with the Husker basketball teams. I've heard rumblings that the Whalers aren't happy in Connecticut. Let's hope they consider Lincoln as a new home!
Seriously, speaking of laying foundations, we may have the start of some rhetoric that could become more common place as we close in on the 2013 opening of the arena. This article on the closing of the Manhattan Deli in the Haymarket sounds very much like we could be opening a divide between the existing Haymarket businesses and the interests in their soon-to-be neighbors.
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that the property values in the existing Haymarket will rise as a major new atttraction is built on their doorstep. But if we are going to see a local business-vs-national developer mentality take hold, it will detract from what should be a great project for all of Lincoln. The last things we should see are 1) uniquely Lincoln businesses being priced out of a bustling business district and 2) a prevailing attitude among that business community that the only thing the city wants to see in conjunction with the arena are P.F. Changs, Cheesecake Factories and Banana Republics.
Finally, 2011 will bring us closer to the answer to the question "what about Pershing." We have already thrown out our proposal. Odd? Yes. But the kind of thinking I hope the city leaders are exercising when looking for answers as to what to do with the 56 year old building. Sorry, but I just don't see the need for a library that size in an age where everything you can find in a library is available at the machine you are using to read this right now. Give me something outside-the-box and unique that might actually draw people from outside the city - and I wouldn't mind preserving as much of the structure as we can (cost effective, of course) to celebrate a building that has served us well for over half a century.