In the spring of 2017, Nebraska was in the middle of a national discussion about whether it should build a stadium to replace the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The debate pitted the state’s business leaders against the city of Omaha and the NFL, and led to public meetings, meetings, and public forums where local business leaders were told their voice would be heard, even if they didn’t get the best of the state.
After the first meeting in May, the NFL pulled its 2020 NFL draft picks out of Nebraska and relocated its Super Bowl LI game to Chicago.
But Lincoln City Councilman and Nebraska basketball coach Joe Niehweit wasn’t done with the idea.
“This is going to be the first time I’m ever going to get a chance to put a new stadium in Nebraska, period,” he said.
“But I can tell you, it’s going to make a difference.”
In early June, Niekweit announced a $1 million contribution to the Lincoln project.
The campaign quickly garnered a response from several state legislators, as well as the Nebraska Basketball Association, which said it supported the initiative.
“There is a lot of passion here for our state and for the project,” Niebby said.
That was enough to convince a majority of Nebraska voters to approve the $1 billion project.
Since the start of the 2020 NFL Draft, Nebraska has hosted more than 40 NFL draft events and has hosted the 2018 NFL draft in May.
A spokesperson for Nebraska Basketball, which hosts the 2019 NCAA Tournament, said they are “confident in the project.”
“It’s a great day for our football program and we are thrilled to have Nebraska City Council support the Lincoln Project,” said Niebjby.
“The Lincoln Project is a tremendous opportunity to create a state-of-the-art sports facility for our university.
The project is expected to generate more than $1M for our University of Lincoln, including the hiring of nearly 50 construction and related staff.”
The Nebraska Economic Development Corporation (NEEDC), a state agency tasked with developing economic development projects, released a report in March 2017 estimating that the project would generate more tax revenue than it costs.
NEEDC estimated the total project cost at $1,977 million and that it would create at least 700 jobs.
According to the Nebraska Sports Development Authority, the Nebraska Economic Growth Corporation, and the Lincoln City Economic Development Authority have all donated $2.5 million to the project, with NEEDCs contribution to date being $1million.
Niekjis initiative will help Nebraska to continue to attract NFL talent, according to his campaign website.
“We’re going to build something that will not only help the state but the nation,” he told KFOR in March.
“It won’t be an empty project.
We’re going take a great project and we’re going build something.”