Pinnacle Bank Arena
by Julie Nichols
Since 2013, Pinnacle Bank Arena has delivered top-notch entertainment and put Lincoln on the map for blockbuster touring acts. A spectacular disc of polished metal and glass, the Arena’s architecture ushered modern aesthetics to the Haymarket’s vibrant historic district, its silver profile now an iconic addition to Lincoln’s skyline.
After a public vote in 2010, the completed arena held its grand opening three years later. This state-of-the-art multi-purpose venue became the jewel in the crown of the West Haymarket Redevelopment Project. Costing $179 million, Pinnacle Bank Arena hosts the University of Nebraska-Lincoln men’s and women’s basketball teams through the season, and offers year-round concerts, family shows, and touring acts. With a general seating capacity over 15,000, Pinnacle Bank Arena also contains loge boxes and executive suites. Over 70 concession areas (including gluten-free options) supply a variety of food and beverages.
From the arena’s open-air roof deck, visitors access spectacular views of the Haymarket District, Memorial Stadium, and the Nebraska State Capitol. This sleek and stylish venue is also one of the most sustainable buildings in the country. Designated an official Energy Star building, the arena receives support for its recycling program through the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Reducing energy costs by up to 30 percent, Pinnacle Bank Arena has aided in Lincoln’s long-term goals of sustainability.
Some of the biggest names in music and entertainment come to Pinnacle Bank Arena. Michael Bublé opened the premier season which featured superstars Pink, Miranda Lambert, and Sir Elton John. Since its launch, the arena has offered a diverse lineup of performers—from Shania Twain to Slipknot, TOOL, Blake Shelton, Pearl Jam, Cardi B, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Disturbed, James Taylor, Garth Brooks, Kendrick Lamar, and Neil Young with Lucas Nelson’s Promise of the Real.
Pinewood Bowl, now Pinnacle’s sister venue (located outdoors in nearby Pioneers’ Park) delivers a more intimate concert experience in a natural amphitheater flanked by tall pines. Through the years, Pinewood Bowl has hosted many music luminaries: Willie Nelson, Allison Krauss, Beck, Robert Cray, BB King, Jackson Browne, ZZ Top, Bonnie Raitt, twenty one pilots, Paul Simon and Steely Dan. Pinewood Bowl also experienced artists’ cancellations in 2020, but the Beach Boys played an August show with a reduced audience. (See page 19 for more information.)
For those who fancy spectacle, Cirque du Soleil, the Harlem Globetrotters, Capitol City Stampede Rodeo and WWE Smackdown make regular appearances and cater to a variety of tastes in entertainment. For the kids, look for Disney on Ice, and Nickelodeon touring shows. Nebraska’s own Larry the Cable Guy regularly performs at PBA, and Lincoln’s roller derby team, No Coast Derby Girls, traditionally hold tournaments throughout the season.
Now the official home of the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers men’s and women’s basketball, Pinnacle Bank Arena is also the site for the NSAA girls and boys state basketball tournaments. NBA exhibition games, World Series watch parties and Championship Cup tennis exemplify the eclectic sporting events held at the arena.
Pinnacle Bank Arena also supports the Lincoln community through formal events like Chocolate Lovers’ Fantasy, a dinner pairing chocolate with innovative dishes by local chefs. Funds support the Haymarket District and Team Mates, Lincoln’s school mentorship program. Haymarket in White, a formal dinner and dance, hosts guests dressed in white, with food and cocktails highlighting Haymarket restaurants and bars. Additionally, Pinnacle’s event concessions provide fundraising opportunities for high school programs, civic and faith groups. Although delayed last year until late summer, the arena traditionally hosts commencement exercises for thousands of Lincoln Public Schools seniors and University of Nebraska undergraduate and graduate programs.
To provide for Lincoln’s most vulnerable citizens, PBA hosts Project Connect, a one-day, one-stop event that concentrates on-site services for homeless or at-risk individuals and families. Project Connect provides medical, dental and behavioral health professionals, and assists with housing applications, legal issues and substance abuse treatment resources. Professionals provide personal care, dental and medical services and assist in guiding people to off-site programs for crisis intervention, education and basic needs. Businesses, individuals and service organizations unite to provide for and raise community awareness of the needs of people who are often unseen.
While 2020 brought enormous changes to public events, Pinnacle adapted. As athletic events were suspended, graduation ceremonies delayed and performers rescheduled, Pinnacle went into a holding pattern. Several events were held in late 2020 with livestream capabilities and tiny audiences. College basketball and volleyball tournaments returned with dates pushed later in the fall season.
Pinnacle’s 2021 season officially begins again in March of 2021, drawing a variety of shows for audiences young and old: Paw Patrol, Kane Brown, Impractical Jokers, Dude Perfect. Maroon 5 returns in August and Chris Stapleton is slated for October. As megastars like Cher reschedule postponed events, PBA will be adding more acts, as well as hosting basketball and volleyball Nebraska State Tournaments.
Parking and hotels are plentiful near Pinnacle Bank Arena, and the Haymarket’s many restaurants and pubs are great for pre-show meetups and post-show celebrations.
For information on arena events, regulations and a schedule for 2021, visit https://www.pinnaclebankarena.com.