Photos by James Hilchen, Stadium Journey
CHI Health Center Omaha FANFARE Score: 4.29
CHI Health Center Omaha 455 N 10th St Omaha, NE 68102
Year Opened: 2003 Capacity: 17,390
Bluejay Basketball at CenturyLink Center
CHI Health Center Omaha (previously CenturyLink Center and Qwest Center) opened in 2003. It is a multi-purpose arena hosting various concerts, pro wrestling events, and sporting events. The arena is home to University of Nebraska-Omaha hockey and Creighton basketball. Creighton moved to the arena in 2003 from the Omaha Civic Auditorium. The move provided an upgrade in the quality of arena along with a large increase in capacity for the Bluejays.
Creighton made the switch from the Missouri Valley Conference to the Big East beginning with the 2013-2014 basketball season, bringing more prestigious teams to Omaha. Despite not being built specifically for basketball, the arena provides a great venue for the team and the fans.
Food & Beverage 4
If you can't find something to eat here, you aren't looking very hard. The prices are a little on the high side, but CenturyLink Center offers a wide range of food options. Among the highlights are the hand-carved beef sandwich ($12), grilled macaroni and cheese sandwich ($8.50), and traditional, chicken, and vegetable gyros ($8). Philly cheesesteak ($8), along with the traditional burgers, hot dogs, etc are also available.
Many of the options are provided by outside vendors. If you are a barbecue fan, I highly recommend the BBQ nachos ($8) available from Famous Dave's. For those that would like Gluten-free choices, you have your own stand with options such as hot dogs, burgers, nachos, etc.
Pepsi products are the soda of choice here.
As an off-campus arena, a litany of different choices of alcoholic beverages is also available. Bud and Bud Light cans ($7.50), Goose Island ($7), wine, and other non-beer options can be had. A nice touch here is a "build your own Bloody Mary" stand. Someone from concessions pours the liquor for you but you make the rest as you like it.
The CHI Health Center Omaha is a multi-purpose building and it is all about entertainment. There are a few items to see in the concourse. The clear highlight is the band that plays jazz tunes near the Creighton fan store. For the kids, there is also a Mutual of Omaha display with various animals to look at.
Another thing worth noting is the number of televisions hanging from the inner walls of the concourse. They are everywhere and allow fans to watch the game while standing in line for food and drinks, walking to the restrooms, or anything else.
A huge scoreboard adorns the ceiling directly over the center of the court, and it is easily viewable from all seating areas. Separating the upper and lower seating bowls are the skyboxes. There are a few ancillary scoreboards and a ribbon board clearly visible as well.
The excitement ramps up for the fans when the Bluejays take the court. The dance squad, cheerleaders, and band are all quite active before the game. A nice touch here is the heavy curtains that close off the concourse once play begins. It is still easy to get in and out of the seating area but the curtains keep a lot of unnecessary light out.
The arena is located near downtown Omaha. Be sure to go by TD Ameritrade Park, home of the Bluejays baseball team and the College World Series. It is visible from the arena and a quick walk across a couple parking lots to get there.
There is no shortage of options when looking for places to eat and/or drink before or after the game. On 12th Street is Blatt Beer & Table. During the spring and summer, Blatt's has a rooftop beer garden worth seeing. The extensive beer list is impressive and they have good food, so it is still a great stop during the basketball season too.
On Mike Fahey St. is Goodnights Pizza. The barbecue chicken pizza is quite tasty.
Another place to have a drink or meal before or after the game is The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill. "The Matt" is very popular with the locals and more than one fan suggested that it is "the" place to go.
On Capitol Ave is DJ's Dugout Sports Bar. They offer various daily specials and have a decent choice of food options for almost anyone.
The arena is also mere blocks away from the riverfront. If the temperature is agreeable, be sure to go have a look, there are some great views.
Creighton ranked fifth in attendance in all of college basketball in 2014. The fans are a knowledgeable bunch, very into their team, and good at sensing when their team needs some extra help. They are loud when the occasion dictates and nearly everyone that attends a game (and is rooting for the Bluejays) is dressed in Creighton's colors. An added bonus of this fanbase is that they are a friendly group, and conscious of not taking away from the enjoyment of those around them.
It doesn't get much easier than getting to CenturyLink Center. The arena is easily accessible from I-480. There are plenty of signs once you exit the freeway and the building is so large, you won't miss it.
Once inside, you can move between floors using escalators, elevators, or stairs. The concourses are wide, making it easy to get around. The different seating sections are clearly marked so it is simple to find your seat. There are plenty of clean restrooms on all levels, as well as plenty of good seating for fans in wheelchairs or those needing special help.
Return on Investment 4
The only seats readily available to the public are in the upper bowl. The going rate for a ticket is $33, not a bad value to see Big East basketball. Parking is available around the arena for $8-$12, but you can find free parking a few blocks away if you are willing to walk. Couple the tickets and parking with average food prices and you get a fun time for a reasonable amount of money.
An extra point goes to the fans. They really are a super-nice bunch and more helpful than most, even to fans of the visiting team. Another point goes to the banners that celebrate Creighton athletics. Final point goes to live music in the concourse before the game. The band was playing various jazz tunes prior to the game and it was quite an enjoyable experience.
Many of the Creighton athletes and fans are spoiled, in a good way. They get to watch their baseball team play at TD Ameritrade Park, a fabulous venue. The basketball team is also privileged to play in a great arena.
CHI Health Center Omaha has great food, a fabulous atmosphere, and the fans are tremendous. It is rarely thought of among the elite arenas in college basketball, but the arena combined with a fabulous downtown Omaha makes any effort to attend a game here well worth the trip.