By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog
LINCOLN – With construction workers in neon yellow looking on from concourses, Lincoln officials held a “topping out ceremony” today at the Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Such ceremonies – where a beam is raised with an evergreen tree and flag – are a tradition in the construction industry and can be traced back to a Scandinavian religious practice of putting a tree on top of a new building. These days the ceremony marks a milestone in construction — Lincoln’s ceremony marked the setting of the last piece of steel on the arena, which is about 55 percent complete, according to program manager Paula Yancey.
The beam used for the ceremony was signed by Lincoln residents, including a host of dignitaries at the event, including Gov. Dave Heineman, Mayor Chris Beutler, Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne and Husker men’s basketball coach Tim Miles.
“This redevelopment is about jobs and, even more importantly, is is about people,” Beutler said. “Today we honor the people on the ground who truly are doing the heavy lifting.”
The arena is schedule to open in the fall of 2013 – and so far is on pace to open early.
“We continue to be on time and on budget as promised,” Beutler said. He complimented the governor as he introduced him, saying he was invaluable in assisting with the project and “a great partner” on a series of projects.
“Lincoln’s on the move,” Heineman said. “Nebraska’s on the move.”
Osborne credited Lincoln voters with approving financing of the $344 million arena and associated development in 2010, largely by increasing bar, restaurant, hotel and car rental taxes. Osborne was a key voice in a $700,000 promotional campaign.
“A lot of places, this wouldn’t have been passed,” he said. He said the arena will as fine an arena as anywhere in the country.
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