Tag Archives: arena

Get Your Game On!

June 20, 2013 by

Staying fit can be a real challenge for a busy mom, particularly when she spends a good chunk of her day behind a desk at work or playing chauffeur to active kids. So, too, can finding time for socializing with friends, who often have similarly hectic schedules that make planning a get-together nearly impossible.

Committing to play in a weekly beach volleyball league is an ideal way busy moms can ensure they get regular, quality exercise time in the outdoors, while at the same time enjoying a few hours socializing with teammates. It’s scheduled “me time” with physical fitness built in!

The Digz, a beach volleyball facility at 4428 S. 140th St. in Omaha, is a popular destination for many who enjoy the bump, set, spike sport. The sports arena features eight outdoor sand volleyball courts and, beginning this summer, four indoor/outdoor sand courts that can be enclosed during the colder months.

The Digz offers sand volleyball leagues year-round. New sessions of six-on-six recreational co-ed leagues, and four-on-four competitive leagues start every eight to nine weeks. Games are scheduled Sunday through Friday from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Courts are lit for nighttime play, and the facility also features a sports bar and grill, so players can catch a bite before or after a game or spend a bit more adult time catching up over a beverage.

Manager Mary Nabity says Digz sees about 400-600 players each night for league play during its summer session, which runs through Aug. 11. “We’ve been open now about eight years,” she says. “People really enjoy it. It can get crazy-busy here some nights, but it’s a lot of fun.”

Sempeck’s Bowling and Entertainment Center, at 20902 Cumberland Rd. in Elkhorn, offers its Sandbaggers Beach Volleyball in three sessions: spring leagues run April 21-June 20; summer leagues run June 21-Aug. 20; and fall leagues run Aug. 21-Oct. 15. Recreational, intermediate, and power play leagues are all offered, as are women-only and co-ed team play. Games run Monday through Friday from 6:30 p.m. on, and on Sundays beginning at 4:30 p.m.

The Sandbaggers’ facility, which opened in spring 2012, features six outdoor courts, all with nighttime lighting and automated scoring. A nearby playground allows older kids to enjoy some outdoor playtime during Mom’s matches (though it’s unsupervised). A horseshoe court and beanbag games are nearby as well. After games, Sempeck’s large, outdoor patio offers guests full-menu service and features live entertainment on Friday nights in the summer.

Owner Steve Sempeck says more than 180 teams were registered to play in the center’s spring leagues this year—that’s double last year’s team count. “We anticipate our summer leagues will fill to capacity with 275 teams,” he adds. “That’s about 1,500 players.”

Sempeck says Sandbaggers attracts a wide array of players. “Everyone from young singles just out of college to old guys like me in their 50s,” he jokes. “The majority are here for the recreational leagues and the social aspects of play. But we do have a power league—two on two, just like in the Olympics—and they’re in it competitively. They’re great to watch.”

This spring, Omahan Vicki Voet joined a beach volleyball league after a long absence from the game. “I just started back in April,” she says. “I had been in a league about 20 years ago with my husband, Perry, at the Ranch Bowl—before kids.”

Now an empty nester, Voet says she was looking for a way to reconnect with her interests and friends.

“I have been trying to find myself since the kids left for college,” Voet shares. “Volleyball is something I’ve always enjoyed…it’s very competitive and requires endurance, and exercise is very important to me. It’s great because [playing again] allows me to be with my friends and socialize at the same time. And I enjoy playing as a team.”

Since joining the spring league, Voet says she’s thoroughly enjoyed the experience. “The weather is usually good, and I love being outdoors. And it’s something I look forward to each week. We all just get out there to have fun!”

The Digz
4428 S. 140th St.
402-896-2775
thedigz.com

Sempeck’s Bowling & Entertainment Center
20902 Cumberland Dr.
402-289-4614
sempecks.com

The Ralston Arena

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

While Ralston’s new $36 million arena is impressive, drawing big crowds and solid reviews, it isn’t getting too big for its britches.

“We’re not going to target the U2s or the Bruce Springsteens,” said Lynn Higgenbotham, marketing director for the arena. “But it’s a good size, a good fit.”

Modesty becomes it. The state-of-the-art arena can host 3,500 guests and easily accommodated the crowd for its October 19 opening concert with country singer Rodney Atkins.

Upcoming events include rodeos, UFC (Ultimate Fighting) matches, high school games, and trade shows. The arena will also host the USHL Lancers (attracted by not one, but two sheets of ice), the UNO men’s basketball team, the IFL Omaha Beef Football, the Omaha Roller Girls, and the LFL (Lingerie Football League) Omaha Heart. “They draw about 16,000 in other venues,” Higginbotham said of Omaha’s own LFL team.

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The arena sits at 73rd & Q streets in Ralston.

So the arena, at a quarter of that size, is hoping for a sell-out?

“That’s the goal, of course,” she said. While no event is too small for the arena, Higgenbotham said that its main purpose is to host major events. Direct competition with larger local facilities such as the Mid-America Center is, of course, out of the question. Such venues are able to seat twice as large a crowd. “The larger places can adapt themselves to a smaller theater setting,” she explained, but Ralston Arena is poised to set itself apart. “We want more diverse entertainment and sports events,” Higgenbotham said. “The Ralston residents really took ownership of this venue.”

That could be because, previously, there were no other event facilities in Ralston, according to Curtis Webb, general manager of Ralston Arena. “People would drive into Omaha for entertainment,” he said.

The arena, which broke ground June 29, 2011, on what used to be Lakeview Golf Course, is Ralston’s answer to a need for taxable income. Since 2008, Mayor Don Groesser had been attempting to attract a retailer onto the space with little luck. “We started talking with the Lancers about an arena,” Groesser said. Due to the scarcity of ice time in Omaha, the hockey team was excited about the idea of an arena with a few thousand seats.

“We want more diverse entertainment and sports events.” – Lynn Higgenbotham, marketing director for Ralston Arena

“Now that it’s here,” Webb said, “the venue should drive sales tax in the form of tickets, food, and beverage.” To pay down the debt of building the arena, LB 779 (or the Ralston Bill as it was known by the time it passed in 2010) puts 70 percent of the state’s portion of sales tax from any retailer within 600 yards of the arena toward the arena’s bill. As Groesser put it, “That’s basically how we’re going to pay for the building.”

As a result of this legislation, Groesser and Webb are encouraging more businesses to build within that 600-yard range of the arena. “We just got Menards to build on 72nd and L,” Groesser said. He also plans to introduce a new four-story hotel next to the facility, the first floor of which will be shops along the lines of salons, clothing, and convenience. “So another 10,000 square feet of retail,” he said. Add that on to the 4,600 square feet leased by The Dugout (clothing store) inside the arena, itself.

“We need all the new retail we can possibly get,” Groesser explained. “Everything I’ve done, I’ve tried to make sure of that.”

For more information about Ralston Arena, visit ralstonarena.com.