The Omaha Lancers will return to their Omaha roots next season. Lancers owner Ben Robert, Qwest Center Omaha president and CEO Roger Dixon and Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey announced the Lancers will begin play at the Omaha Civic Auditorium starting with the 2009-2010 season. Joining in support of the return to Omaha was Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce president and CEO David G. Brown.
Robert said the Lancers started in Omaha in 1986 at the Hitchcock Arena and later played many years at the Aksarben Coliseum, before moving in 2002 to the Council Bluffs’ Mid-America Center. Robert said it is time to bring the team back to Omaha.
“Omaha is our home and we think there is no better ice arena in our league than the Omaha Civic Auditorium,” Robert said. “We know there are Omaha hockey fans who chose not to follow the team when we changed arenas in 2002, and we will work very hard to bring them back and start packing the Civic with enthusiastic fans. We appreciate the relationship we have had with the Mid-America Center, but this is the right time and right move for the Lancers.”
Robert said the Lancers plan to only sell tickets in the lower bowl of the Civic Auditorium, ensuring every hockey fan has a seat close to the ice.
“The Civic provides 4,200 excellent lower bowl seats that put you almost right in the middle of the action,” Robert said. “Our first priority is to make sure everyone gets a premium seat to Omaha Lancers hockey at the Civic Auditorium.”
Dixon said the Lancers bring an exciting style of hockey and believes the Civic Auditorium is the right venue to help rebuild Omaha fan support for the Lancers.
“Omaha area hockey fans have always enjoyed the hockey environment of the Civic Auditorium, and we think the style of hockey played by the USHL is ideal for this facility,” Dixon said. “The Omaha Lancers are known throughout the USHL for being the premier franchise. They bring a great ownership group, excellent coaching and an effective marketing team, and we anticipate solid attendance at the Civic.”
“This is great news for Omaha, not only for hockey fans but for our entire community,” Mayor Mike Fahey said. “Lancers hockey at the Civic Auditorium will offer another exciting entertainment option in downtown Omaha for citizens to enjoy.”
“The Lancers bring another exciting entertainment opportunity to downtown Omaha,” Greater Omaha Chamber president and CEO David Brown said. “The opportunity to see the Omaha Lancers at the Civic Auditorium and UNO Mavericks at the Qwest Center ensures thousands of fans will keep our downtown active virtually every weekend during the fall and winter months. And that’s good for business in downtown Omaha.”
Robert said 2009 season ticket sales at the Civic will start as soon as possible.
“Our first priority is to take care of our current season ticket holders, and we are working with the City of Omaha and MECA to ensure Lancers fans have several parking options close to the building,” Robert said. “We also hope to work closely with UNO to cross promote the two hockey programs, eliminating duplication of weekend games when possible and hopefully increasing attendance for both programs.”
Robert said people with season ticket questions for the 2009-2010 season at the Civic Auditorium should call 344-PUCK (344-7825) or visit the Omaha Lancers Web site, www.lancers.com.
The Omaha Lancers started play in 1986 at the Hitchcock Ice Arena, and failed to win a game the first season. However, within four years the Lancers became the Cinderella story of the hockey world, going from last place to first in the USHL, winning the league and playoffs, and finishing runner-up in the national tournament. The Lancers are currently coached by Bliss Littler, a coaching veteran in the USHL. In addition to Robert, the Lancers’ ownership group includes 1980 U.S. Hockey Team captain Mike Eruzione, NHL greats Mario Lemieux and Luc Robitaille and business owner John Donovan.
The USHL is celebrating its 30th season of junior hockey in 2008-09. With over 140 players already committed to NCAA Division I schools and 16 NHL Draft picks playing in the league, the USHL is the nation's foremost producer of junior hockey talent. For more information, visit us on the web at www.ushl.com.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)