Opa! New downtown venue is moving right along despite COVID-19…

Category: Blog — Tags: , — @ 12:59 pm May 6, 2020

by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com

Well, Kevin Coffey is back at the Omaha World-Herald (Yay!), and today reports that Omaha Performing Arts will begin construction of its new $109 million live music venue by the end of summer, according to this article in today’s paper.

That construction schedule was reaffirmed Tuesday in front of the City Council by an attorney representing Omaha Performing Arts,” Kevin wrote. “The city is considering paying for some of the public infrastructure work related to the privately funded music venue.

The venue was announced just last November via a press release (see the Lazy-i story here), leaving more than a few people scratching their head wondering if we really needed yet another live music venue when the ones we already have are struggling to drawing audiences.

Now, during these Days of COVID when independent music promoters and venues are just trying to keep the lights on as they wait for the pandemic to subside, the idea of moving forward with another venue seems foolhardy, especially for a non-profit like Omaha Performing Arts, which suspended all performances at its venues since March 14 through at least mid-May. I wouldn’t be surprised if those postponements stretch into the summer months.

Ah, but when you have the donor power that Omaha Performing Arts has, something like a pandemic isn’t going to slow you down. BTW, Kevin pointed out that the organization rebranded itself “O-pa” last fall (an obvious nod to Omaha’s historic Greek roots?).

The City apparently is going to reimburse O-pa for up to $1.1 million of public improvements during a time when the city budget will be suffering a rather massive shortfall due to loss of tax revenue as a result of the pandemic.

I’ve been told that this project is somehow tied to national promoter Live Nation, who could be involved in booking this new venue. No doubt O-pa doesn’t have the in-house firepower to book the kind of artists needed to fill a 3,000-capacity venue when it opens sometime in 2023. By then, COVID-19 should be merely a painful memory (right?)…

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2020 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.