Omaha Civic Auditorium Is For Sale

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - It's been an Omaha icon since the 1950's but lately the Omaha Civic Auditorium has been an eyesore.

To renovate it would cost taxpayers nearly $30 million. Wednesday, the City of Omaha put the property up for sale.

The mayor said she's accepting proposals to redevelop one of the city's largest properties.

The Omaha Civic Auditorium was once a key venue for the region. Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, even Elvis Presley played there, but lately the excitement's been dwindling.

Right now it only has the Shrine Circus, several area graduations, and a few dance recitals scheduled. However the City of Omaha wants to change that. It wants to bring new life to the area.

The Omaha Civic Auditorium was once a site where memories were created. "First concert was there. Triumph and Bachman Turner Overdrive, 400 years ago," Clovis Colley said.

"Lots of concerts, rodeos, fun times," Sandy Johnson said.

But now"waste of space. I think it should be sold. It's costing us taxpayers money and it needs a lot of repair all the time," Johnson said.

Each year taxpayers spend $300,000 to keep the building running but the mayor said that's not going to happen anymore. "As far as putting a lot more money into the Civic center, I don't think that would be a good financial decision to make, so therefore if the HVAC system or air conditioning went out, we're not going to turn around and repair it now," Mayor Jean Stothert said.

The city has put the property up for sale. Nine acres of prime real estate with easy access to the interstate. "That area is a bit rundown. It's prime real estate and you hope that if you get some great development there it's just going to spur a lot more development in that area which is going to be good for downtown and good for all of Omaha," Stothert said.

Progress that many support. "I guess I'd like to see more restaurants, more things to do. I live in midtown so all this stuff's really handy for me," Colley said.

"Restaurants would be good," Johnson said.

"I don't really see Omaha as very progressive and I like to see things like the Qwest center coming in and more business and let's attract more manufacturing and more jobs."

The City of Omaha hopes to make its decision on who will take over the property by August 22nd, however city officials said they're not obligated to make a selection. If they don't like any of the choices, they won't accept a bid.

The Civic could close as early as June 30th.

Events are still scheduled through mid June including the Shrine Circus.

The city says Omaha Park 5, the garage on the southwest corner, will remain and be managed by the city.

Officials said construction could begin as soon as the summer of 2015.

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